- Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images
- Republicans lost the majority they held in the House of Representatives for the first time in eight years.
- But several Republicans broke through the political turmoil and gained significant notoriety in 2018.
Republicans did not have a banner year, losing dozens of seats in the House after the 2018 midterm election results were finally tallied.
But a handful of Republicans broke through the party’s big losses to make a name for themselves or experience a massive shift in their reputation among conservatives.
Here are some of the GOP’s biggest breakout stars of 2018.
Republican Dan Crenshaw, a former US Navy SEAL, won the House race in Texas’ 2nd congressional district in November.
Crenshaw became one of the most widely-known new Republicans running in 2018 after becoming the subject of a joke on “Saturday Night Live,” in which Pete Davidson mocked his eye-patch. Crenshaw lost his eye while fighting in Afghanistan.
Davidson and Crenshaw ultimately made up by allowing the incoming freshman congressman to roast him on the next episode of the NBC show. But Crenshaw made a lasting impression to become a breakout GOP star.
Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney has served in Congress since 2016 but gained new notoriety in the aftermath of the GOP’s poor performance in the 2018 midterm elections.
House Republicans elected Cheney chair of the entire conference – a position her father, former Vice President Dick Cheney, had held during his time in Congress.
Sen. Lindsey Graham has been relatively well-known for years. But in 2018, Graham became a virtual pit bull for President Donald Trump and his agenda in the Senate, allowing him to shed his reputation of being a “RINO” (Republican in name only).
Graham unloaded on Democrats during the contentious hearings for then-Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, changing the tone and pace of a pivotal moment in the Senate.
The result of Graham’s new attitude has been laudatory praise from Trump and his allies in the Republican Party, along with winning access to the president’s ear on key issues.
- Alex Wroblewski/Getty Images
Heather Nauert made the leap from being a headlines reporter at Fox News to serving as the chief State Department spokesperson when Trump assumed the presidency. But in 2018, she gained even more public fame and praise from inside the administration.
This resulted in Trump’s decision to nominate Nauert to serve as the next US Ambassador to the United Nations after the departure of Nikki Haley at the end of the year.
- Mark Wilson/Getty Images
Mike Pompeo began 2018 as director of the CIA. He ends 2018 as the only secretary of state to broker a meeting between a US president and the reclusive North Korean tyrant Kim Jong-un.
Pompeo made news just before his confirmation when traveled to North Korea and met with Kim, which hurried up his confirmation process. Pompeo was instrumental in the historic summit where Kim and Trump met on Singapore’s Sentosa Island.
North Korea has slowed down their missile tests, but the US effort for full denuclearization in the struggling country is far from accomplished.
Candace Owens is the director of communications at Turning Point USA, a right-wing student activist organization known for its support for President Donald Trump.
Owens, 29, gained a lot of attention in 2018 for promoting conspiracy theories, appearing frequently on Fox News and other conservative media outlets, and for the meeting between Trump and Kanye West.
West had engaged with and praised Owens, but ultimately distanced himself from her and the “Blexit” movement that she helped orchestrate to guide black Americans away from the Democratic Party. Owens later apologized to West, but remains a prominent figure on the right and within conservative media.