Election Coverage / Government Watch / Politics

New Republican Stars Emerging From the 2022 Midterms

AMAC Exclusive – By Shane Harris

The 2022 midterm elections failed to produce the much-anticipated “red wave” that conservatives were hoping for. But despite failing to retake the Senate and making only modest gains in the House (although, importantly, enough to flip control of the chamber), Republicans can take heart in strong showings from several candidates who appear to be rising stars within the party. Here are a few names to keep your eye on in the years ahead.

John James – Michigan 10th Congressional District

While Republicans failed to oust Democrat Governor Gretchen Witmer and lost ground elsewhere in Michigan this year, U.S. Army veteran and businessman John James was one of the brightest spots for the GOP anywhere in the country this year.

Following a competitive race against incumbent Michigan Senator Democrat Debbie Stabenow in 2018 and a narrow defeat to Michigan’s other Democrat Senator, Gary Peters, in 2020, James this year locked up the newly created 10th district, located just north of Detroit, in what many pundits believed to be a bellwether for GOP efforts to make inroads with suburban voters. Notably, James will become the first Black Republican to represent Michigan in Congress, and the first Black member to represent a majority-White suburban district.

Even before his victory in November, the 41-year-old West Point grad was still viewed by many in Republican circles as a strong contender for future statewide races. James may prove a formidable force in politics for years to come.

Wesley Hunt – Texas 38th Congressional District

Another Black West Point grad, Wesley Hunt – who graduated with James in 2004 – also made waves on election night by trouncing Democrat Duncan Klussmann in the Texas 38th Congressional District, 63%-35.5%. Although the district, which mainly encompasses suburbs in the Houston area, was always considered a safe Republican seat, Hunt’s performance was viewed as especially strong.

Throughout his campaign, Hunt emphasized key conservative issues like protecting the Second Amendment, defending election integrity, and stopping wasteful spending, while also focusing on issues specific to the Houston area like bolstering flood infrastructure and securing the border. Like James, Hunt’s success points to a rejuvenated Republican Party and the emergence of fresh faces who have strong potential as future leaders.

Monica De La Cruz – Texas 15th Congressional District

The good night for Texas Republicans continued in the 15th Congressional District with the election of Monica De La Cruz, a Trump-endorsed candidate who ran on a platform of border security and an unapologetic defense of pro-life policies.

De La Cruz has been on the political radar for some time after coming within three points of ousting incumbent Democrat Vincente Gonzalez, Jr., in 2020, just two years after Gonzalez had won the district by more than twenty points. This year, in a redrawn district that was more competitive but still had a Cook PVI rating of D+3, De La Cruz defeated Democrat nominee Michelle Vallejo 53.3%-44.8% after Gonzalez opted to run in another district rather than face De La Cruz again.

De La Cruz also reflects the accelerating trend of Hispanics, particularly in border states, fleeing the Democratic Party for the GOP. Her success is more proof that formerly deep-blue seats in states like Texas, Arizona, and Florida that were once thought unwinnable for Republicans are now firmly in play.

Lee Zeldin – New York governor’s race

Congressman Lee Zeldin didn’t win his campaign for the New York governorship, but his strong performance may have been the crucial factor in Republicans winning control of the U.S. House of Representatives.

Zeldin came within six points of ousting incumbent Democrat Kathy Hochul – an astonishing feat given that former Democrat Governor Andrew Cuomo had won reelection by more than 23 points in 2018. But the real impact of his performance was felt down-ballot, where Republican House candidates flipped four Democrat House seats in New York. Perhaps the most satisfying victory of the night for Republicans came in New York when State Assemblyman Michael Lawler ousted incumbent Congressman and Chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Sean Patrick Maloney.

To be sure, the Republican candidates in each of these four New York races deserve immense credit. Lawler in particular may be at the start of an impressive rise of his own. But it’s undeniable that Zeldin, even while enduring a personal defeat, played a pivotal role in this election year for Republicans. Some Republicans are even calling for Zeldin to replace RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel, a nod to his strong performance and the belief that he can lead the GOP to future successes.

Regardless of what the next move is for Zeldin, 2022 is likely not the last time Republicans will see him in a leading role.

Katie Britt – Alabama U.S. Senate seat

Nobody expected the Alabama U.S. Senate race to be close. But first-time politician Katie Britt still somehow exceeded expectations with a 66.8%-30.9% drubbing of her Democratic opponent. Even before entering the Senate, Britt has proven herself to be someone who can work with sometimes contentious factions within the GOP – she was one of only a few candidates to enjoy the backing of both former President Donald Trump and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who were often at odds this cycle.

As the former Chief of Staff to Alabama Senator Richard Shelby – whom she will replace – Britt already has a firm grasp of how the Senate operates and can be expected to have an immediate impact upon arriving back in Washington. Though her career as an elected official is still in its infancy, it’s a good bet that Britt will rise quickly through the ranks in the Senate, and perhaps may even have presidential or vice presidential ambitions in the more distant future.

These names are just a few of the rising Republican stars who emerged in 2022. Of course, the real test for any politician is how well they wield power and deliver for their constituents back home. For that, we’ll have to wait and see.

Shane Harris is a writer and political consultant from Southwest Ohio. You can follow him on Twitter @Shane_Harris_.  

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Ben Ray
1 month ago

I agree with your selections, but would also note there are a couple of others you are missing.
For example, in New Jersey we had some hard working candidates that made tremendous gains in a very Blue state and may actually have flipped some additional seats – but they lacked needed Republican Party support. MIA.
When you have $9 million going to Alaska for one Republican to run against another and minimal monies going to some of these other races – it becomes clear the GOP parties leadership does not have the best interests of the party or the nation in place. Draining the swamp needs to start here first.

1 month ago

It is especially pleasing for me to see John James a winner. I am from and live in Arkansas and supported him from the beginning. Love it all these young fighters! God Bless you! Emer

Ramblin' Rogue
1 month ago

So proud of these strong young Conservatives who are keeping my faith alive in the future of this great nation. Thank You, to all of those brave enough to stand up and be heard. God Bless America!!!

1 month ago

I agree they are rising stars and a breath of fresh air. Now, it’s up to the voters in their constituents to keep on them while they serve and communicate with them & their offices. Call, email, write and/or go to town halls & events regularly. Otherwise the cesspool can sway them and turn them into useless RINOs who will sell us out and make us suffer. For reference, see the GOP’s spineless performance during Trumps presidency, when we controlled the WH and both chambers of Congress.

1 month ago

Finally a ray of sunshine in the republican party. Now, if we can only get rid of the RINO’s.

1 month ago

All have a wish list here just like me but no one including me has a solution to end election fraud and the price these”winners” must pay to do so. Until politicians face the wall of prison and meet “Clyde” they don’t fear honest election or the cost of exposure. Nail some and the rest will come forth for the “deal”. Marion federal prison will cause problems for anyone.IMO

Steve Colin Zeigler
1 month ago

What about that Arizona firebrand, Carrie Lake, who was cheated out of the governorship by the socialists?

John Diaz
1 month ago

And yet we still have others in the waiting. Kari Lake is just one of them.

1 month ago

Whatever. Until election integrity is instituted in every state we’ll never have enough patriots elected to clean up the corruption that is our political establishment of both parties.

Al V
1 month ago
Reply to  Paul

Sadly, I agree with you. No matter how great the candidates may be, in the wee hours of the morning, the ballet harvests and early voting/vote by mail schemes win the day…unless the Republican Party wakes up and takes the offensive.

1 month ago
Reply to  Paul


1 month ago
Reply to  Paul


1 month ago

There are plenty of strong Repub contenders. Is there one democrat ?

David Capps
1 month ago

Nothing will improve much until the stupid quit reselecting the worthless RINoS

1 month ago

I hope the new and younger people coming into office are not as corrupt and money hungry as the OLD people in office. The politicians must have very easy jobs, because you can’t even get them to leave with a crowbar. Can’t pry these old politicians out of their seats. Must enrich themselves more. Look at useless Janet Yellen. Scary!

1 month ago

Read yesterday that My Pillow guy wants to be one of the top dogs in Republican party or just nominating or ?? and does not impress me. Plus he does not follow rule of Buy America when he barkers that the finest cotton in the world comes from foreign country.

1 month ago

Just hope they are not corrupted by the rinos

J. Shenk
1 month ago

The Republican Party has its share of shortcomings; however, maintaining a sizable and strong talent base of potential future leaders isn’t one of them! Democrats simply don’t have a bench that deep. Another reason to be optimistic about the future.

Philip Hammersley
1 month ago

Hope Britt is more conservative than RINO Shelby!

J. Farley
1 month ago

Hope they don’t let the Weasels in DC put their mind control on them and tempt them with a pocket full of money!

Paul W
1 month ago
Reply to  J. Farley

Exactly. MTG has already gone pro-kevin mccarthy…sickening.

1 month ago
Reply to  Paul W

You’re right. mtg is a huge disappointment. Then again, politicians are a bunch of LIARS to begin with…. She started out as someone that might be worth something better than a wooden nickel. She isn’t worth a pile of dung now. Another RINO bag of crap.

Paul W
1 month ago
Reply to  Hdrydr

Yeah…she sounded really promising, but anyone that backs mccarthy, I DON’T back.

anna hubert
1 month ago

All the old junk that has been around for ages needs to be replaced with fewer and useful stuff

1 month ago

Praying they will keep their heads above the cesspool of politics and work for the people. That they don’t cave on hard issues.

Linda Baker
1 month ago

I still have my suspicions about the governor’s race in NY. I believe Zeldin won.

1 month ago
Reply to  Linda Baker

He no doubt won the upstate vote by a wide margin, but upstate New York doesn’t control who wins state-wide elections in New York State. New York City does that based the its population. NYC, from a voting perspective, is incredibly messed up. It is overwhelmingly Democrat by a 5 to 1 margin. Yet only about 16 percent of the overall population evers votes. Yes 16 percent. Talk about lazy and apathetic when it comes to voting. So a Republican could have a decent chance of winning in the city, if the people would just get off their a$$es in sufficient numbers and vote.

Since the results in NYC weren’t known by 11 p.m. election night, that means Zeldin got a lot more votes than he was supposed to get. So then the Democrat Party went into “save mode” and did what they always do to ensure the city itself remains a solid Democrat win.

1 month ago
Reply to  Linda Baker

I fell the same way as you do, Linda. From my understanding, I think Zeldin won by NY State and Long Island, but was lost by the five NY City boroughs, Queens, Staten Island, Bronx, Brooklyn and Manhattan. These boroughs are 100 percent Democrats.

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