Beyond the freshmen, Republican Reps. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota and Steve King of Iowa are fighting for their political lives. Bachmann’s Quixotic presidential campaign left her open to charges of ignoring her district. King is facing Christie Vilsack, the wife of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, a still-popular former governor. She is also focusing on local issues rather than King’s national conservative platform.
“If you’re truly focused on the people of your district, if you’re making it local, you should be concerned about the 750,000 not about the ideology that my opponent is talking about,” Vilsack said in a recent interview.
Democrats believe that such high-profile victories could send a signal that hyper-partisanship is not the route to reelection, giving hope for more bipartisan work in 2013.