Tom Cotton named "Most Likely to Succeed"

WASHINGTON (POLITICO) - This dysfunctional Congress has often looked like an unruly schoolyard, with cool kids, nerds, bullies and outcasts all vying for their own piece of turf.

And while we wouldn't want to diminish the massive, consequential issues that Congress is struggling with by comparing the hardworking lawmakers to school kids, let's be honest, it often looks like one big popularity contest.

With a slate of 84 House rookies being sworn in Thursday, the freshmen are already angling for their spots in the pecking order. POLITICO has jumped ahead with predictions for freshmen superlatives for the incoming 113th Congress, identifying the people whose names you'll see in the headlines in the coming year.

Most likely to succeed

Tom Cotton (R-Ark.): Thirty-five-year-old political newcomer Tom Cotton is already lauded as one of the GOP's fastest-rising stars. Cotton handily put the Arkansas district of retiring Democrat Rep. Mike Ross into Republican hands, has an impressive résumé and a growing list of fans on the Hill. The 6-foot-5 Harvard Law graduate left a law practice in 2004 to enlist in the Army, served in Iraq and Afghanistan and won a Bronze Star. Between tours, he was part of the Old Guard at Arlington National Cemetery. During his campaign, Cotton was cheered by everyone from Sen. John McCain to the fiscally conservative Club for Growth to Mike Huckabee. Cotton's widespread appeal across GOP circles already has many buzzing he'll quickly move up the ranks in the House. Recently, Cotton penned an op-ed for The Wall Street Journal from a "soldier's eye view" slamming the could-be nomination of former Sen. Chuck Hagel for secretary of defense, and he's been one of the loudest voices against the sequester -- a signal he's more than ready to be his party's voice on the Pentagon and defense spending.

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