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New Kids on the Block

Incoming freshmen House members include former pro basketball player, a Navy SEAL and a couple of second-generation politicians

Newly elected members of Congress all have interesting résumés.

HOH pulled some favorites about these members.

As new House member orientation kicks off Monday, look out for more information about these soon-to-be freshmen.

Jack Bergman, R-Mich.


Bergman is a former Northwest Airlines pilot and a former commander of the Marine Corps Forces Reserve, retiring as a three-star general in 2009.

Bergman replaces retiring Rep. Dan Benishek in Michigan’s 1st District.

Liz Cheney, R-Wyo.

111416-HOH.inddCheney will serve in the same congressional seat once held by her father, former Vice President Dick Cheney. She has previously served in the State Department during her father’s time in the White House, and was a Fox News commentator.

Cheney replaces retiring Rep. M. Cynthia Lummis in Wyoming’s at-large seat.

Adriano Espaillat, D-N.Y.


Espaillat is the first Dominican-American elected to Congress. He also had the same distinction in the New York state legislature. He lost twice to Rep. Charles B. Rangel in the Democratic primaries in 2012 and 2014.

Espaillat replaces the retiring Rangel in New York’s 13th District.

Drew Ferguson, R-Ga.


Ferguson is a small-town dentist who served as mayor of his hometown of West Point, Georgia, from 2008 until this year. 

Ferguson replaces retiring Rep. Lynn Westmoreland in Georgia’s 3rd District.

Josh Gottheimer, D-N.J.


Although it was his first run for office, Gottheimer is no stranger to Washington. He’s a former speechwriter for President Bill Clinton and was an intern for former House Speaker Thomas S. Foley.

Gottheimer defeated Rep. Scott Garrett in New Jersey’s 5th District.

Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash.


Jayapal was born in India, making her the first woman of South Asian ancestry elected to the House. She said working on leveraged buyouts for a brokerage firm “drove me to working for social justice for the next 25 years.”

Jayapal replaces retiring Rep. Jim McDermott in Washington’s 7th District.

Al Lawson, D-Fla.


Lawson tried out for three American Basketball Association teams. The gym where his alma mater, Florida A&M University, plays basketball is named after him.

Brown replaces Rep. Corrine Brown, whom he defeated in the Florida 5th District primary.

Brian Mast, R-Fla.


A former bomb disposal expert, Mast lost both his legs in 2010 in Afghanistan when the last improvised explosive device he found detonated. After retiring from the Army, he worked for the Department of Homeland Security.

Mast replaces Rep. Patrick Murphy, who vacated his 18th District seat to run for Senate.

Jimmy Panetta, D-Calif.


Panetta is the son of former CIA Director Leon Panetta. He served as a Navy Reserve intelligence officer in Afghanistan and was awarded a Bronze Star in 2008.

Panetta replaces retiring Rep. Sam Farr in California’s 2oth District. 

Jamie Raskin, D-Md.

111416-HOH.inddRaskin has served in the Maryland Senate since 2007, where he led efforts to abolish the death penalty, decriminalize marijuana and grant legal recognition to same-sex couples.

Raskin replaces Sen.-elect Chris Van Hollen in Maryland’s 8th District.

Francis Rooney, R-Fla.


Rooney, a construction company magnate, was appointed by President George W. Bush in 2005 as U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See.

Rooney replaces retiring Rep. Curt Clawson in Florida’s 19th District.

Scott Taylor, R-Va.


Taylor is the second Navy SEAL to be elected to the House, after Ryan Zinke of Montana. He served as a sniper in Iraq for three months in 2005 before being injured and evacuated out of the country.

Taylor replaces retiring Rep. Scott Rigell in Virginia’s 2nd District.

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