Ron DeSantis, Trey Radel and Ted Yoho Make Noise as Freshmen in Congress
Around the State
Three Republicans from Florida are ignoring the old congressional rule that freshmen should be seen and not heard.
Ron DeSantis, Trey Radel and Ted Yoho never held elected office before winning crowded Republican primaries last August, then cruising in the general election. Despite their lack of political experience, the three have all had a knack for getting attention.
Radel also won an open seat in 2012. The Republican freshman from Southwest Florida has shown some mastery of the media -- no surprise with his experience in communications. Radel won national attention with his love of hip-hop music and his reviews of Jay-Z and Daft Punk albums earlier in the year. But he has also shown a more serious side, including his appearance on the BBC network this week, expressing his opposition to American military intervention against Syria.
After knocking off longtime incumbent Cliff Stearns in the primary, Yoho made some waves early in his term when he refused to vote for John Boehner to be House speaker. Yoho has made some waves on foreign policy, appearing on national talk shows as he continues to oppose getting involved in Syria. But he made major missteps when asked about Barack Obama’s birth certificate. Having gotten in some trouble on the issue last month at a town hall event in the district, Yoho brought the issue up on Chris Matthews’ show on MSNBC on Wednesday. Pressed on it by Matthews, Yoho could only repeat “no comment” when asked about the matter -- and even called Germany an ally in World War II as he talked about Syria.
It’s easy to see DeSantis and Radel aspire for higher office. DeSantis is only 34 while Radel is 37. As Republicans look to future Senate, gubernatorial and state Cabinet elections, DeSantis and Radel have to be included in their political calculations. They also could both be in the House for years to come as they represent strong Republican districts.
Yoho also represents a solid Republican area but, at 58, his window of opportunity is not as large as DeSantis’ and Radel’s. A large animal veterinarian by training, Yoho has promised to serve only four terms in Congress and he has no interest in making a career in politics.
The three freshmen could be heading down different paths as their political careers continue, and it’s not hard to imagine them clashing down the road. But, for the moment, all of them have shown some ability to get attention and make some noise. With none of them having held office before, it’s no surprise that DeSantis, Radel and Yoho aren’t politics-as-usual, nor do they opt to remain quiet in their first months in office.
Tallahassee political writer Jeff Henderson wrote this analysis piece exclusively for Sunshine State News.