New crop of GOP challengers rise at RedState Gathering

The RedState Gathering has been meeting annually for five years now. In that time, the RSG has made a name for itself by making a name for others- spotlighting up-and-comers in the conservative movement who have made their mark in the Republican Party and challenged the mediocre majority.

Rick Perry announced his intention to run for president at the RSG in 2011. Erick Erikson???s RSG vision helped Senators Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio earn national recognition.

This year???s gathering, held last week in New Orleans, served as a launching point for a number of candidates seeking to make their way into the GOP establishment. Below is a list of names-to-know and what to expect in the way of a Republican shake-up in 2014 and beyond:

State Senator (and majority whip) Larry Rhoden is challenging former Gov. Mike Rounds for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate in South Dakota. Democratic Sen. Tim Johnson currently holds the seat, and won???t be seeking re-election. Rounds has been criticized for not being conservative enough on fiscal issues, and Rhoden, a rancher from rural SD and former majority leader of the state House of Representatives, said the out-of-control federal spending and debt prompted his decision to run for senate. Rhoden had resisted criticizing his opponent, but things changed at RedState. ???I resisted the temptation to talk about my opponent,” Rhoden said. ???But in the last three or four days, some things have come to light in the press that I have found extremely interesting???My opponent says he refuses to take pledges because that ties his hands and keeps him from negotiating. Isn???t that exactly the point? It???s time that our politicians be held accountable.”

???Tea Party Guy??? Matt Bevin is looking to replace five-term incumbent Mitch McConnell as senator of Kentucky. McConnell has his work cut out for him, with challenges coming from Democratic Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes on one side, and Bevin on the other. Bevin has come out fighting, challenging McConnell outright: ???The people of Kentucky have had enough??? of bailouts for Wall Street banks. They???ve had enough of raising your own pay at a time when people in Kentucky are losing their jobs.??? Bevin hasn???t minced words: ???Be a man, stand up and put your money where your mouth is,??? he said in reference to a challenge he issued to McConnell to sign a letter vowing to defund Obamacare. ???I???m not going to run to the left of Mitch McConnell; I???m not going to run to the right of Mitch McConnell,??? he said. ???I am going to run right over the top of Mitch McConnell.??? Whoa.

In Louisiana, Rob Maness, a retired Air Force colonel, is challenging fellow Republican Bill Cassidy for the chance to unseat Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu. Maness is running against steep odds- $40,000 in his campaign account compared to Cassidy???s $3.2 million.  Cassidy has been painted as a RINO, and Republicans in Louisiana have been searching for a candidate who is not only conservative, but also electable. Landrieu has been in office since 1997, and this could be Maness??? chance.

Another senate upheaval is set to take place in North Carolina, where Dr. Greg Brannon, an OBGYN and ???disruptive??? conservative, is running against Kay Hagans. Brannon???s RedState speech (to be posted here in the near future) was one of memory, and his future looks bright. Brannon won a straw poll of delegates to the N. C. Republican Convention in Charlotte in June, defeating NC State House Speaker Thom Tillis.

RedState featured two upstarts on the Congressional side of things threatening to upset the establishment. In Idaho, Bryan Smith is challenging incumbent Mike Simpson. Smith, a small business owner, made a ???splashy debut??? to the election circuit by raising $147,000 for his campaign, 96 percent of which was from Idaho voters. In Pennsylvania, Coast Guard vet Art Halvorson is looking to take the representation away from long-time repeat Bill Shuster. Halvorson has said Shuster is ???not an authentic conservative??? and that new leadership is needed. The Shuster ???dynasty??? has been in office since the 1970s.

Watch Matt Bevin’s speech at RedState Gathering:


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