The NCSL Blog


By Jeff Hurley

State legislators make up a majority of newly elected members of Congress. 

U.S. CapitolHalf of the congressional freshman class will bring with them state legislative experience when the 114th Congress begins in mid-January. Tuesday’s results saw 29 current or former state legislators elected to the House of Representatives and six newly elected senators with backgrounds serving in their respective state capitals. While a number of elections around the country are either too close to call, not yet official, or face runoffs, the upcoming Congress will consist of 219 and 45 members in the House and Senate, respectively, with state legislative credentials, an increase over the previous two election cycles. When the dust settles, about half of the members in the 114th Congress will have served in state legislatures.

Both Senators-elect Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) and Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) will come to Washington directly from their state legislature. Tillis is currently speaker of the North Carolina House of Representatives. Other incoming freshman to the U.S. Senate, which will now hold a Republican majority for the first time since 2006, include Senators-elect Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), Gary Peters (R-Mich.), Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), and Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.V.). Each of them, except for Rounds, followed a path from their state legislature to the U.S. House of Representatives before this week’s election. Rounds served as governor of South Dakota.

These new members will spend next week and beyond in orientation sessions in the nation’s capitol before facing a number of significant legislative issues to begin the 114th Congress. Depending on the outcome of the lame-duck session, lawmakers will consider reform of the federal tax code and energy security, and face the conundrum on how to finance the nation’s infrastructure system, among other pressing national issues.

Former state legislators on their way to Washington

U.S. House of Representatives

  • Arkansas 4th – Bruce Westerman (R)
  • Arizona 7th – Ruben Gallego (D)
  • California 11th  – Mark DeSaulnier (D)
  • California 25th – Stephen Knight (R)
  • California 33rd – Ted Lieu (D)
  • California 35th – Norma Torres (D)
  • California 45th – Mimi Walters (R)
  • Georgia 1st – Buddy Carter (R)
  • Georgia 11th – Barry Loudermilk (R)
  • Hawaii 1st – Mark Takai
  • Illinois 10th – Robert Dold (R)
  • Illinois 12th – Mike Bost (R)
  • Michigan 4th – John Moolenaar (R)
  • Michigan 8th – Mike Bishop (R)
  • Minnesota 6th – Tom Emmer (R)
  • Montana at-large – Ryan Zinke (R)
  • Nebraska 2nd – Brad Ashford (D)
  • New Hampshire 1st – Frank Guinta (R)
  • Nevada 4th – Cresent Hardy (R)
  • New Jersey 1st – Donald Norcross (D)
  • New Jersey 12th – Bonnie Coleman (D)
  • New York 1st – Lee Zeldin (R)
  • North Carolina 7th – David Rouzer (R)
  • North Carolina 12th – Alma Adams (D)
  • Oklahoma 5th – Steve Russell (R)
  • Pennsylvania 13th – Brendon Boyle (D)
  • Virginia 10th – Barbara Comstock (R)
  • Washington 4th Dan Newhouse (R)
  • West Virginia 2nd – Alex Mooney (R)
  • West Virginia 3rd – Evan Jenkins (R)
  • Wisconsin 6th – Glenn Grothman (R)

U.S. Senate

  • Colorado – Cory Gardner (R)
  • Iowa – Joni Ernst (R)
  • Michigan – Gary Peters (D)
  • North Carolina – Thom Tillis (R)
  • South Dakota – Mike Rounds (R)
  • West Virginia – Shelley Moore Capito (R)

Additional Resources

Jeff Hurley is the committee director for state-federal relations for NCSL in the Washington, D.C., office.

Email Jeff

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About the NCSL Blog

This blog offers updates on the National Conference of State Legislatures' research and training, the latest on federalism and the state legislative institution, and posts about state legislators and legislative staff. The blog is edited by NCSL staff and written primarily by NCSL's experts on public policy and the state legislative institution.