The Hill’s 2012 New Members Guide: Page 7 of 93

Rep.-elect Paul Cook (R-Calif.-08)

DATE OF BIRTH: March 3, 1943

BIRTHPLACE: Meriden, Conn.

RESIDENCE: Yucca Valley, Calif.

OCCUPATION: Professor  

EDUCATION: B.S., Southern Connecticut State University; M.A., political science, University of California, Riverside; M.A., public administration, CSU San Bernardino

PREVIOUS OFFICE HELD: California State Assembly (2006-present); Yucca Valley, Calif., mayor

FAMILY: Wife, Jeannie

A California assemblyman, Paul Cook won election after beating a Tea Party-backed candidate in an open Republican-vs.-Republican race.

Cook is a retired colonel in the Marine Corps who served for 26 years. He earned the Bronze Star and two Purple Hearts serving in Vietnam. 

He was seen as the establishment candidate in the race against Gregg Imus, who co-founded a border-watching group in California and held the backing of former presidential candidate Herman Cain. 

Covering a large swath in the state’s southeast, the newly drawn 8th district was left open after Rep. Jerry Lewis (R) decided not to run.

Prior to becoming an assemblyman, Cook was mayor of Yucca Valley, Calif., and served on the City Council. He holds master’s degrees in political science and public administration and has taught at multiple universities. 

In the campaign, he won endorsements from high-profile California GOP congressmen like Reps. Buck McKeon and Darrell Issa.