Meet the new senators
Republicans cemented control of the Senate for two more years and positioned themselves for a more conservative majority, with victories by candidates who aligned closely with President Donald Trump. The results held implications for battles over trade, health care, spending and immigration. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has made confirming federal judges a top priority, a task carried out by the Senate alone.
Kevin Cramer's admirers call it reckless honesty — an unfiltered way of thinking and talking that can be refreshing while sometimes getting him in trouble. It was on display late in his Senate campaign when he minimized Christine Blasey Ford's allegation of sexual assault by Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh by characterizing them as "teenagers who evidently were drunk." Cramer's free-speaking style comes with accessibility, too; he routinely shares his cell number with reporters. North Dakota's at-large House member and former chairman of the state Republican Party has done a little bit of everything in his long career: state tourism director, state economic development director, Public Service Commission member.
Nevada's newest senator, Jacky Rosen, decided to take on Republican Sen. Dean Heller last year when she was only six months into her first term as congresswoman from the Las Vegas area. Rosen, 61, a former computer programmer and software consultant, narrowly won election two years ago to what had been a GOP-held U.S. House seat. She was serving as president of a synagogue when longtime Nevada Sen. Harry Reid recruited her to run for office against Republican Rep. Joe Heck. Rosen hammered Heller throughout the campaign this year for his shifting stances on health care and his new alliance with President Donald Trump. Rosen, a Chicago native and University of Minnesota psychology graduate, moved to Las Vegas in 1980.
Democrat Claire McCaskill's good fortune finally ran out Tuesday when Republican Josh Hawley flipped a crucial Senate seat in Missouri. Republicans in increasingly conservative Missouri felt they missed an opportunity in 2012 when Senate hopeful Todd Akin's candidacy imploded. This year party leaders united behind Hawley, 38, who had been in office less than two years as attorney general. He relentlessly attacked McCaskill for failing to vote for Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. President Donald Trump campaigned on Hawley's behalf several times. Hawley has a law degree from Yale and served as a law clerk for U.S. Chief Justice John Roberts. His work history includes being part of the legal team for Hobby Lobby.
Indiana's next senator is a little-known Republican businessman previously elected to two sleepy terms in the state Legislature, where one of his most notable actions was a vote to increase taxes. But what Mike Braun may lack in name recognition, he more than made up for by lending more than $10 million of his own fortune to his campaign. That enabled him to beat two sitting congressmen, Luke Messer and Todd Rokita, in a bitter GOP primary, and then topple Democratic Sen. Joe Donnelly in Tuesday's general election. Worth somewhere between $37 million and $95 million, Braun came to politics after building a business empire that includes a trucking company and a national auto parts distribution business.
Tennessee is replacing Bob Corker, one of the Senate GOP's most outspoken critics of President Donald Trump with a close ally of the president in Marsha Blackburn. She is a firm backer of Trump's border wall, has sung the praises of his tax cuts, and came out in support of Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation the day Trump nominated him. Blackburn, 66, who was first elected to the House in 2002, has aligned with the Tea Party movement and regularly appeared on Fox News. Before that, she made a name for herself as a state senator who helped lead the revolt against a failed Tennessee income tax proposal in the early 2000s. She attended college on 4-H scholarship and later founded a marketing company focused on retail.
Former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney handily won a U.S. Senate seat in his adopted home state of Utah after a campaign where he backed off his once-fierce criticism of Donald Trump. Romney defeated Democrat Jenny Wilson, a member of the Salt Lake County council. Romney was the heavy favorite to win the seat in conservative Utah, where he holds near-celebrity status as the first Mormon presidential nominee from a major party. He replaces longtime Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch, who chose not to seek re-election. Romney denounced Trump as a "fraud" and a "phony" during the 2016 campaign, but has since said he approves of many Trump policies.