Rep. Mark Meadows, the conservative congressman pushing a motion to oust John Boehner as speaker, has insisted he does not like “being in the limelight.”
However, his latest challenge to GOP leadership has catapulted his name across headlines, showing a defiant side to the man often described as the “friendliest guy in the House.”
Here are 13 things you may not know about the North Carolina representative.
- Meadows’ attempt to unseat Speaker Boehner is not the first time he has rebelled against Washington’s power players. Last month, Oversight Chairman Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, temporarily removed Meadows from his subcommittee chairmanship for voting against a motion to advance President Obama’s trade bill.
- Meadows was a key player in the 2013 government shutdown, sending a letter to Boehner just eight months after taking office encouraging him to halt any appropriations bill including Obamacare funding. CNN went as far as to call Meadows the “architect” of and “man behind” the shutdown.
- He has a cordial reputation on Capitol Hill. Both Democrats and Republicans call him one of the “nicest guys” in D.C., Politico reports, and The Washington Post dubbed him the “friendliest guy in the House.”
- His affable personality shows in interviews. Just days after Chaffetz stripped his chairmanship, Meadows told The Washington Post, “I love people.”
“Every single week, I try to find at least seven different people with something unique and admirable about them, and I share that with them. D.C. is not going to change me on that, even today.”
- Meadows was first elected to Congress in 2012 following redistricting in North Carolina, which shifted his district from “slightly” Republican to solid.
- His seat on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee allowed him to play a lead role in pushing Congress to investigate the Internal Revenue Service for targeting conservative groups.
- His position also launched him as central in forcing the resignation of Office of Personnel Management Director Katherine Archuleta in July following the department’s massive data breach exposing 21.5 million Social Security numbers.
- He grew up in Tampa Bay, Florida, describing himself as a “fat nerd” during his early years. He decided to lose weight after he attempted to ask a girl out only to be shot down.
“I went home and looked in the mirror and said, ‘You’re fat.’ So, I started almost immediately to run a mile to lose weight,” Meadows recalled.
- He caught the attention of his wife, Debbie, in high school after he lost weight, becoming “unrecognizable” even to her—she thought he was a new student. They both graduated from the University of South Florida.
- He was born in Verdun, France, in a U.S. Army Hospital where his father was stationed during the Vietnam War. His mother worked as a civilian nurse at the hospital.
- His family was poor, providing him with an upbringing he said gave him an “appreciation” for hard work.
“They would kind of go through feast and famine,” Meadows told a local paper about his childhood. “There was never really money for extras.”
- Prior to becoming a congressman, he and his wife opened a sandwich shop called Aunt D’s Place in a small North Carolina town where they moved after college. He later sold the shop and became a real estate broker.
- Meadows recently told a high school class in North Carolina his conservative political views are inspired by his Christian faith.
“My dad was actually a Democrat. I registered immediately as a Republican. Nothing against him, it’s just where I was [and] my worldview. My world view has been shaped from my Christian faith more than anything else.”