Nov. 6, 2012 – 9:44 p.m.

113th Congress: Markwayne Mullin, R-Okla. (2nd District)

Running a small business has been a major focus of Markwayne Mullin’s life. He greatly expanded the family’s plumbing company after the death of his father, and in the process acquired some media savvy by hosting a home-improvement show on local radio. He broadened his portfolio by opening a martial-arts studio called Oklahoma Fight Club.

Mullin, a tea party favorite, also developed a strong skepticism of federal power. Lawmakers in both parties, he says, are more concerned about their careers than the Constitution.

“When you’re making a decision, are you making a decision because that’s what the party wants? . . . Because it seems like when we get some of these stupidest bills passed, it’s because it’s the flavor of the month. It’s because that’s the way everybody’s going,” he said in July at a candidate forum. Voters should elect lawmakers who are “willing to fire themselves to do what’s right,” he said.

Mullin points to the No Child Left Behind education law, the antiterrorism Patriot Act and the 2010 health care law as examples of how Congress has overstepped its bounds. Among federal agencies, he often singles out the EPA as a source of frustration for business owners.

On social issues, Mullin sticks to the conservative line: He is against gay marriage and abortion, and he favors strong gun ownership rights.

Mullin hasn’t expressed interest in a specific committee assignment, but a seat on Small Business would be a natural fit.