Mark Meadows

In this corner of Appalachia, poverty takes a back seat to art galleries, country clubs, golf course communities, five-star restaurants, and multimillion-dollar houses.

From this perch in Highlands, N.C., Congressman Mark Meadows, a real estate entrepreneur who capitalized on the area's transformation to a prosperous retirement and vacation community, rose to political power quickly. Now, Meadows leads the House Freedom Caucus, controlling about 30 votes and showing few qualms about endangering his party's best chance to repeal the Affordable Care Act.