Election Day is a month away and most pundits expect Republicans to take back the House and possibly the Senate. A Morning Consult poll reveals that the electorate currently trusts Republicans more to handle the economy.
Who could have guessed record-high inflation and 87,000 new IRS agents are not what voters want from their elected officials while the country recovers from a pandemic? While one shouldn’t count their chickens before they hatch, it’s worth taking an early look at some of the new faces and personalities likely to prevail in November and arrive on Capitol Hill come January.
An examination of the prospective incoming class of new Republicans in Congress shows the GOP House caucus is poised to get some valuable new additions.
Take Andy Ogles, the Republican nominees in Tennessee fifth congressional district. Ogles, who was nicknamed Tennessee’s most conservative mayor, won a fiercely competitive GOP primary in Tennessee's Fifth congressional district, which included former House Speaker Beth Harwell and Retired National Guard Brig. Gen. Kurt Winstead.
While Ogles faces off against Democrat state senator Heidi Campbell in the general election, he is poised to flip TN-05 in November. Thanks to the redistricting efforts of state Republicans, longtime Democrat Rep. Jim Cooper announced his retirement in January after the maps were released. State Republicans turned the Fifth district from a Democrat stronghold into a reliable conservative seat for the next decade. Cook Political Report rates this as a SOLID R seat with a partisan voter index of R+9.
While Ogles would be new to Capitol Hill, he’s already very experienced in the arenas of policy and politics. In fact, Ogles can tout the fact that he played a key role in improving Tennessee’s tax climate, which is no small feat considering that the Volunteer State already had one of the most competitive tax codes in the nation.
On the campaign trail, Ogles focuses on issues like government accountability, transparency, sanctity of life, and the Second Amendment. He's concerned with government overspending and government reform. Ogles signed the Taxpayer Protection Pledge in May during the Republican primary, committing to voters in writing to oppose and vote against all income tax hikes while in Congress.
Americans for Tax Reform commended Ogle's decision to sign the Pledge, highlighting that candidates running for public office like to say they will never raise taxes but often turn their back on taxpayers once elected. A written commitment is a much harder promise to break to your constituents.
Ogles is expected to become a conservative leader in Congress in short order. Even Rep. Jim Jordan's House Freedom Fund endorsed him, saying, "Andy Ogles is exactly the kind of leader conservatives need in Washington."
But more than endorsements and conservative rhetoric, Ogles has a proven track record of accomplishment. Before his time as Mayor, he was a successful businessman, fiscal policy expert, and longtime conservative activist. He helped make Tennessee a true no-income-tax-state when he spearheaded efforts to repeal Tennessee’s tax on investment income during his time as Americans for Prosperity's Tennessee director.
Often called a no-income-tax state, even before it was true, the Tennessee government's "Hall Tax" levied a six percent tax on investment income like dividends and interest. This form of double taxation hurt Tennessee seniors and made it harder to compete with the likes of Florida and Texas. As a result, conservative activists and organizations spent years advocating for the elimination of this tax.
Thanks to a consistent and organized grassroots pressure campaign coordinated by Ogle's AFP-Tennessee, the Tennessee legislature voted to phase out the "Hall Tax" in the final week of the 2016 legislative session. With the Hall Tax successfully repealed, Tennessee's business climate improved from 15th in the country to 8th, helping to keep and generate new investment in the state. The economic benefits of the repeal will be significant.
Given the improvements he’s made in a state that already has a relatively low tax burden, conservatives should be excited to see what's next for Ogles. Too often, a politician's rhetoric does not match the results, but with Ogles, voters have a conservative track record to back up his campaign message. Kevin McCarthy and other Republican leaders on Capitol Hill, meanwhile, can take comfort in the fact that among the likely freshman class next year will be an experienced hand like Ogles, who will be able to contribute starting day one.
Adam Radman is Director of Advocacy at Americans for Tax Reform.