Tom Graves, who was sworn in Monday night in Washington, D.C., to serve the 9th District in the U.S. House of Representatives, is anxious to get to work.
The Republican and former state representative from Ranger won a special election runoff last week to serve out former U.S. Rep. Nathan Deal’s remaining term, which expires at the end of 2010. Deal resigned earlier this year to run for governor.
Graves said he and his wife, Julie, spent the day in Washington doing administrative work so he could begin working as soon as possible.
“Julie and I are humbled by the opportunity to represent the 9th Congressional District and we look forward to ... casting votes this evening and throughout the week,” Graves said. “We’re going to hit the ground running.”
Graves said he plans to spend his first few days in office learning the ins and outs of the job.
“My initial priority is making sure that constituent calls and e-mails are easily taken care of,” Graves said. “Then begin developing the relationships and understanding of the rules and process, and do that as quickly as possible to get up to speed.
“I look forward to an aggressive legislative agenda.”
He also will learn about potential committee appointments.
“We’ll be meeting with (House Minority Leader John) Boehner’s office to discuss some of the opportunities there are for committees and what some of the jurisdictions are for various committees, and see what’s available and see where we can jump in and start going to work,” Graves said.
Graves will have to continue to fight for his newly won seat in the U.S. House. On July 20, Graves will battle five other Republicans for a full term in the House, including former state Sen. Lee Hawkins of Gainesville, whom he challenged in the special election runoff.
Graves beat Hawkins with about 56 percent of the vote in the special election.
Ross Alexander, a political science professor at North Georgia College & State University, said Graves’ situation is a bit unusual for a newly elected congressman because he will need to immediately begin running for re-election in a contest that is just over a month away.
“There’s a pretty good chance there will be a runoff if no one gets 50 percent in the primary,” Alexander said. “This has been the campaign that won’t die. This could go on all summer.”
Graves said campaigning is not his top priority.
“My focus and priority is going to be to represent the 9th Congressional District and do the job I’ve been called to do, and campaigning will be a distant second,” Graves said.