Under-the-Radar GOP Stars

Under-the-Radar GOP Stars

Why you should care

Because these are three politicians you need to know about.

Steve King: Holding Up Immigration Reform

Rep. Steve King’s opposition to the Senate’s immigration bill, which would provide a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, is part principle and part political strategy. The political strategy, as King sees it, is this: Immigration reform unifies Democrats and divides Republicans. It would enlarge the Democratic constituency, just like extending unemployment benefits or raising the federal minimum wage, but permanently. You can’t revoke citizenship. He was “tea party before there was a tea party,” says a political scientist. For years he’s been one of the first calls Republican aspirants to statewide or national office make. So he likely will be for the 2016 presidential campaign. Read the story here.

Bob Corker: Fed Up With Congress

As Bob Corker digs in to his second term in the Senate, fellow senators on both sides of the aisle — not to mention the White House — have come to realize that they’re probably going to need this garrulous Tennessean on board to get any big, controversial policies passed. That’s because from the day he came to Washington in 2007, Corker has made it clear he wants to be a player, and he jumped feet first into some of the most complicated issues facing Congress — from Dodd-Frank to a mortgage industry overhaul to what should be done about the slaughter in Syria. “I still look at the term as a lease,” Corker insists. “I don’t really look beyond that. I’m not just saying that, I really don’t.” In doing so, “I never feel handcuffed politically,” he says. “I just feel like I can call ’em like I see ’em and always be direct and transparent and controversial if need be.” That part, at least, is undeniable. Read the story here.

Raúl Labrador: More Than the Party of “No”

It was Raúl Labrador’s mother’s up-by-the-bootstraps attitude (as opposed to any lingering effect of a long-ago Kennedy campaign stump speech) that is abundantly evident in his words and policies. That same direct, do-it-yourself approach also helps explain the 46-year-old’s lightning-fast ascent to the heights of national politics — emerging as a leading voice among those on the right who have made it their mission to block Obama administration policies and, when they feel it necessary, stymie their own party’s leadership’s attempts at compromise. And Labrador predicts the top slot in the House could come open in the not-so-distant future. “I just don’t think that John [Boehner] is going to run again” for House Speaker next year, he says. “I think somebody else will be speaker.” Could that somebody be Labrador? “If there’s any way I can serve, I will,” he says. The door, in other words, is wide open. Read the story here.

This OZY encore was originally published Aug. 7, 2014.

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