Uninfluential in the 112th

Here are nine people that are arguably among the least-influential and least-powerful people in Washington beginning today.  In fact, there are probably secretaries (excuse me, administrative assistants) that are more powerful than these people.  But, at least these people have a cool title: Representative.  They are the nine members of the freshman class of the 112th Congress that are Democrats.  Some of them are coming from powerful positions from within their states, and are going to be the low man on the totem pole again (or, the highest man on the totem pole, if you want to be more technically correct, according to Stuff You Should Know and How Stuff Works):

Colleen Hanabusa (HI1) – Rep. Hanabusa beat a Republican incumbent, Charles Djou, in a predominantly Democratic district in Hawaii. The district gave President Obama 70% of the vote in 2008. Prior to being elected to Congress, Rep. Hanabusa served as the Senate Majority Leader before being elected the first woman President of the Hawaii Senate in 2006.

Cedric Richmond (LA2) – Rep. Richmond was one of only two Democrats to defeat a Republican incumbent in their 2010 race.  He beat Republican Joseph Cao, and not in a close race; he won by over 60%.  Joseph Cao won in this district in 2008, which gave President Obama 75% of the vote, running against William Jefferson, who, was convicted of corruption and sentenced to 13 years in prison.

Hansen Clarke (MI13) – one of the most visible Democratic freshmen in the House of Representatives, Rep. Clarke is the first Bangladeshi-American in Congress.  He defeated Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick in Michigan’s 13th CD, which was a relief to everyone in the country.  Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick was the mother of Kwame Kilpatrick, the now-imprisoned former mayor of Detroit, who is in jail for violating his parole on earlier charges, and is currently under a 38-count federal corruption indictment.  Clarke joins the U.S. House of Representatives after serving in the Michigan House for 12 years, and the Michigan Senate for 8 years.

John Carney (DEAL) – Rep. Carney brings legislative and executive experience to the Delaware At Large seat in the U.S. House.  Before coming to the House, he was the Lieutenant Governor of Delaware, and the Secretary of Finance, positions in which he helped to shape the legislative agenda of the state.  He also ran unsuccessfully to be the governor of Delaware.  He will replace Mike Castle in the U.S. House, who ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. Senate against candidate “I am not a witch” Christine O’Donnell:

Karen Bass (CA33) – Watch for Rep. Bass to become influential rather quickly in Washington.  She has already been the Speaker of the California State Assembly, a position in which she wielded great power.

David Cicilline (RI1) – Rep. Cicilline is replacing Rep. Patrick Kennedy, whose departure marks the first time in many years that a Kennedy has not been in a federal office.  Kennedy was involved in several controversies, ranging from cocaine use while he was a teenager, to his treatment for an OxyContin addiction in 2006.  When Rep. Kennedy decided not to run for re-election, Rep. Cicilline ran to take his place.  He will be the fourth openly gay member of Congress, joining Barney Frank of Massachusetts, Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, and Jared Polis of Colorado.

Terri Sewell (AL7) – Rep. Sewell is a graduate of Princeton University, Harvard Law School, and Oxford University, and is now the first black woman elected to Congress from Alabama.  She is replacing retiring representative Artur Davis, who left Congress to run for governor of Alabama.  He lost in the Democratic primary.

Bill Keating (MA10) – Rep. Keating is replacing another retiring representative of Congress, Bill Delahunt, who had served in Congress without distinction for 12 years.  Rep. Keating promises to follow in Rep. Delahunt’s tradition of non-distinction in the 10th congressional district.

Frederica Wilson (FL17) – Rep. Wilson is replacing Kendrick Meek, who left his seat to run for the U.S. Senate seat (left open by retiring senator Mel Martinez), but was beaten by Marco Rubio in a three-way race. She promises to be a colorful member of Congress. She was known in the Florida Senate as the member who had a massive collection of hats, and she has asked Speaker John Boehner to waive the rule against hats on the floor of the U.S. House, a rule in place since 1837, calling the rule “sexist.”