Rep. Thomas Massie participates in a ceremonial swearing-in ceremony in November.
Frustrated with local governance, he ran for county judge-executive in 2010. He campaigned for both himself and for Paul, also running as the outsider in the Senate primary higher up on the ticket. Massie and Paul both were victorious, buoyed by an anti-establishment anger that swept the state and much of the country.
Taking the reins of the county in 2011, Massie scoured its bills and chipped away waste where he found it. He had electric company lineman take him to visit every electric meter on the taxpayer tab — and then Massie stopped paying the bills for the ones the county itself wasn’t using. He ceased paying rent to a railroad company for a drainage ditch the railroad didn’t own. The county had been unnecessarily cutting checks to the railroad company for 18 years.
Driving to local tea party events around the state, he told his story, connecting with the grass roots. When Davis announced his retirement from Congress, Massie was encouraged to run. His bid had the support of a strong network of tea party groups. The establishment split, backing two other candidates.
With the help of Paul and a super PAC, he won the seven-way primary with 45 percent of the vote and cruised to a general election victory.
The red hue of his district means Massie is safe from a Democratic challenger. And given his deep grass-roots support, Massie is likely to have significant leeway on how he votes without risking a primary challenge.
Effectively the first tea party member of the 113th Congress — and the only one with a vote on the fiscal cliff — Massie is uniquely positioned to help write the next chapter of the tea party’s role in Congress.
In a Washington, where political functionality has been taken apart and thrown asunder, those who have known Massie for years are curious to see what he can build with all the broken parts.