Meet 9 Republicans Who Could Shake Up Things in the New Congress

From Tom Cotton to hog-castrating Joni Ernst, Tuesday night was a GOP wave.

— -- There are a lot of new Republicans headed to Congress next year, but some members of the largest GOP wave since the Hoover administration stick out more than others.

Here are some of the newly minted senators and members of Congress likely to shake things up at the Capitol:

JONI ERNST, Senator-Elect, Iowa

Joni Ernst is a hog-castrating, Harley-riding Sunday school teacher, and her next stop is the U.S. Senate. Ernst, 44, catapulted to national stardom when she released an ad titled “Squeal,” in which she described castrating hogs. It was a theme she carried throughout the campaign, all the way to election night.

“We did it, from the biscuit line at Hardee’s to the United States Senate,” Ernst, an Iowa state senator, said as she declared victory Tuesday evening. "We are going to make them squeal.”

TOM COTTON, Senator-Elect, Arkansas

CORY GARDNER, Senator-Elect, Colorado

He supports alternative energy along with over-the-counter birth control, which helped him fend of Democrats’ attacks against his record on women’s health, and is seen as one of his party’s rising stars.

BEN SASSE, Senator-Elect, Nebraska

While Nebraska’s newest Republican senator has never held elected office, Ben Sasse, 43, is no political rookie.

Sasse most recently served as president of Midland University, a small Lutheran college near Omaha, but has also worked in Congress and served in the second Bush administration. Outside the political ring, he wrestled in college at Harvard University and played (American) football at Oxford University, where he did graduate work.

ELISE STEFANIK, Member-Elect, New York

Elise Stefanik, 30, is the youngest women to be elected to Congress in history, and the first Republican to win her upstate New York district.

Mia Love, 38, became the first female African-American Republican in Congress Tuesday. The former mayor of Saratoga Springs, Utah, unsuccessfully ran for Utah’s Fourth Congressional District in 2012, but will now represent the district, and a new generation of Republican lawmakers, in Washington.

THOM TILLIS, Senator-Elect, North Carolina

Thom Tillis, 54, was one of the Republican Party’s prized recruits, and delivered for the GOP by flipping the sixth Democratic seat to give Republicans control of the Senate.

In just eight years, he has gone from city councilor in suburban Charlotte to U.S. senator, making waves in Raleigh along the way for leading a conservative shift in North Carolina’s historically moderate state politics

DAVID PERDUE, Senator-Elect, Georgia

As a white, Southern, male businessman, Perdue may look like a cookie-cutter Republican senator, but he’ll likely stand out from the crowd. A businessman with experience in overseas manufacturing, Perdue won an intensely negative race in which his Democratic opponent, Michelle Nunn, ran the Obama-vs.-Romney playbook and hammered him for “outsourcing.”

Perdue’s role in the Senate will get most interesting when it comes to immigration. Perdue fought viciously with fellow Republicans in a primary and a runoff over who really supports “amnesty,” but while Perdue plainly says he’s opposed, he’s also signaled a willingness to at least talk about comprehensive reform after border-security measures are passed.

Unlike some of his Republican Senate brethren, Perdue won’t be beholden to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce - the most powerful business lobbying group in the country - because they made enemies of each other during a bad meeting early on in the campaign, and the Chamber backed one of his primary opponents. Somewhat ironic for the Senate’s newest businessman.

LEE ZELDIN, Member-Elect, New York

Of all the competitive House races on Election Day, Lee Zeldin’s victory in New York’s 1st congressional district on Long Island stands out above the rest. “Victory is sweet,” Zeldin, 34, proclaimed during his victory speech Tuesday night, six years after he was handily defeated in his first bid for the House of Representatives.

Today Zeldin is a 10-point winner, holding his opponent to just 45 percent of the vote while carrying 55 percent of the tally himself. “We can’t change Washington unless we change who we send there to represent us,” Zeldin, who will become the only Jewish House Republican in the 114th Congress, told his supporters. “That’s what you did tonight.”