WASHINGTON — Fresh off the floor of the House where he was sworn in to become the newest federal representative for Nevada, newly minted Rep. Mark Amodei on Thursday began tackling the mechanics of being a congressman.
Amodei was given the keys to his office in the Cannon Building across Independence Avenue from the Capitol. It had working phones, desks and a couch in the reception area.
But the Carson City Republican was starting from scratch on hiring a chief of staff, legislative advisers, a press secretary and caseworkers to help constituents in the 2nd Congressional District.
"There’s nothing yet on any of this stuff," Amodei said. "We are going to get to work on making sure that we know we are squared away."
Superstition kept Amodei from stealing a head start on the congressional job, even as early voting statistics in Nevada predicted he was heading to a wide victory in the special election that was held on Tuesday.
"I didn’t want to be looking at things like that before the election," he said. "I didn’t want to be seen talking about that stuff."
Any doubt was removed on Election Day when he defeated Democrat Kate Marshall by 22 percentage points, 58 percent to 36 percent.
The victory set in motion a hectic schedule that had Amodei flying to Washington the day after the election and being sworn into office on the House floor on Thursday morning.
"It is just pretty humbling to go from waking up in the morning yesterday in Carson City and thinking you have to pack, and getting back here and getting processed (for the swearing-in). It’s all pretty much a blur," he said.
The turnaround was so quick that Amodei decided against bringing along his two daughters and his mother, Joy, who had been featured in several of his campaign commercials. Instead he was accompanied by campaign manager Jay Parmer.
Amodei, 53, stood in the well of the House chamber and was administered the oath of office by House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio. Amodei was sworn in alongside Bob Turner, a Republican from New York, who also won a special election on Tuesday.
"I will do the best I can to bring honor to this house and to help you with the work we have to do," Amodei told his new colleagues after being sworn in.
"I am told the longer you talk the less popular you are, so I yield back the rest of my time," he said to a roar of applause. The Republican side of the chamber was near-full, while about half of the House’s Democrats attended.
Minutes later he cast his first vote, for a procedure that advanced a Republican bill to restrict the powers of the National Labor Relations Board.
Amodei became the 40th House member from the Silver State and the fourth elected from the 2nd Congressional District, which was created after the 1980 census.
The district, which encompasses the entire state outside the Las Vegas metropolitan area, has sent only Republicans to Congress. Amodei fills the vacancy created when former Rep. Dean Heller was appointed to the Senate in May. Heller replaced disgraced Sen. John Ensign, who resigned.
Besides going through resumes of job seekers, Amodei awaits committee assignments. He said his preference was to serve on the Natural Resources Committee, which handles public lands bills, but there was a possibility he might land on the Judiciary Committee or the Committee on Veterans Affairs.
Financially, Amodei said he expected to close his special election campaign in the black by a small amount. He said he would resume fundraising next week for re-election next year and the possibility he might face a challenge in the Republican primary.
Amodei said he did not get a call of congratulations from former Assemblywoman Sharron Angle, the Republican tea party favorite who considered running in the special election and who is viewed as a potential candidate in 2012.
"We are going to take the rest of the week off, but next week you have to start asking again," he said of fundraising. "We will do what we think we need to do for the rest of this year and swing into high gear the first of the new year for the primary season."
Contact Stephens Washington Bureau Chief Steve Tetreault at firstname.lastname@example.org or 202-783-1760.