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Who are GOP's 'Young Guns' and what do they want from Election 2010?

Many of the GOP's 'Young Guns' running for House seats see small businesses as America's economic savior – and want government to get out of their way.

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Veteran
auto mechanic Gary Nestor (l.) and Mike Kelly of Mike Kelly Automotive stand under a car on a lift. Mr. Kelly decided to run for Congress after a GM restructuring plan threatened to close his car dealership.

Courtesy of Mike Kelly

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Election 2010 could be a historic year and historic class for House Republicans.

In 1974, Democrats added 75 "Watergate babies" to their ranks. In 1994, Republicans had a class of 73 Con­tract With America freshmen. This year, the GOP's "Young Guns" – 77 of its most electable challengers – are looking to retake the House and take their party in a new direction.

They are Republicans, to be sure. But they come with a drop of "tea party" flavor mixed in. They oppose big government spending and even turn their anger at the Republicans who controlled the House from 1995 to 2006. And for many, their ideas for helping a struggling economy are thoroughly grounded in the nuts and bolts of personal experiences as small-business owners. In short: Help small business and you create jobs.

The small-business doctrine is hardly alien to the GOP. But the Young Guns approach it with a particular zeal, animating their campaigns with their own horror stories about how uncertainty about new federal regulations – along with changes in the tax code – hurt their businesses.

For Mike Kelly, that moment came in May 2009, when General Motors, at the behest of the Obama administration's Auto Task Force, announced plans to shut down more than 1,900 dealerships, including Mike Kelly Chevrolet-Cadillac Inc., in Butler, Pa., founded by his father in 1953. Mr. Kelly called his lawyer, went to arbitration, and eventually got that decision reversed.

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