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9 facts about new members of the 117th Congress

Twins, foreign-born politicians and a first for Korean Americans

Rep. Roger Marshall is the fourth holder of Kansas’ Big First congressional district to win election to the Senate in the last 52 years.
Rep. Roger Marshall is the fourth holder of Kansas’ Big First congressional district to win election to the Senate in the last 52 years. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Though states are still counting votes, the incoming freshmen are already bringing diverse experience and backgrounds to the upcoming Congress, which takes office in January. Here are a few noteworthy facts as the 117th Congress takes shape.

1. Republican and soon-to-be junior senator from Kansas Roger Marshall joins Bob Dole, Pat Roberts and Jerry Moran as the fourth holder of the state’s so-called Big First congressional district elected to the Senate in the last 52 years.

2. Democrat Marilyn Strickland is the first Korean American woman elected to Congress, with her victory in Washington’s 10th District. With Democrat Andy Kim reelected in New Jersey’s 3rd District, this will be the first Congress with more than one Korean American representative.

3. Republican Bill Hagerty follows the late Howard H. Baker as the second person to serve as both the U.S. ambassador to Japan and senator from Tennessee.

4. Arizona Democrat Mark Kelly is the first person elected to the Senate who has been to space since Florida Democrat Bill Nelson, who won three terms before losing in 2018. Kelly, with his six-minutes-younger brother and fellow astronaut, Scott, also increases the Senate Democrats’ number of members born with twin siblings, joining Brian Schatz of Hawaii and Patty Murray of Washington.

5. Cuban Americans in Florida played an integral role in giving President Donald Trump the state, and they’ve also elected Republican Carlos Gimenez, who joins New Jersey Democrat Albio Sires as one of two House members born in Cuba. 

6. Democrat Kai Kahele, who hails from Hilo, is the first member of the Hawaiian delegation to come from the state’s “neighbor islands” (those outside Oahu). The congressman-elect is only the second Native Hawaiian elected to Congress since statehood; the first was the late Sen. Daniel K. Akaka.

7. Reps.-elect Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., Jerry Carl, R-Ala., Madison Cawthorn, R-N.C., Matt Rosendale, R-Mont., Yvette Herrell, R-N.M., Ritchie Torres, D-N.Y. and Cori Bush, D-Mo., all do not have four-year college degrees.

8. Texas Republican Pat Fallon replaces Notre Dame co-alumnus John Ratcliffe, who resigned to become director of national intelligence. Fallon joins the House with fellow Notre Dame Fighting Irish football player Mike Kelly, R-Pa., and former Notre Dame football radio sportscaster, Brendan F. Boyle, D-Pa.

9. Georgia Rep.-elect Andrew Clyde joins Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and New York Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney as one of three members of Congress born in Canada. All three were born in different provinces: Alberta, Ontario and Quebec. (Maloney’s race remains uncalled at press time.)

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