“We just went through a room lottery drawing right now,” Rep.-elect Beto O’Rourke,D-Texas,said. “There were 70 numbers to draw,we drew No. 50,which means we’re not going to have the best office,but we’re not going to have the worst office … but really not the most important thing in the world.”
O’Rourke and other freshmen members of Congress participated in the lottery near the end of two weeks of orientation. Incumbent members chose new offices earlier based on seniority,generally leaving smaller offices farther away from the Capitol for newcomers. Members of the 113th Congress will be sworn in Jan. 3.
After the drawing,O’Rourke,his wife,Amy O’Rourke,and David Wysong,head of O’Rourke’s transition team,examined available rooms in the Cannon and Longworth House Office Buildings. Amy O’Rourke made sure to point out the pros and cons of each office,such as small legislative offices,small lobbies,bad lighting and other details.
Occasionally,they would bump into other newly elected House members who were looking around as well. They would playfully try to discourage the other freshman from liking the same offices.
“You know what would be awesome,to go into the office of a current member,‘Oh no,this is on the list,’” O’Rourke said to his wife good-humoredly while inspecting prospective offices.
O’Rourke did not show much interest in which office he ended up with. After all,he said he started his campaign for Congress out of his garage.
“That is one of the smallest offices you could possibly work out of,one of the least comfortable places from which to launch one of the most unlikely possible but ultimately successful campaigns,” O’Rourke said. “So doesn’t matter if they put me in a broom closet,in the basement or if we have the most spacious office in the Rayburn House Office Building,we’re going to be focused on what El Pasoans want us to do up here.”
As O’Rourke made clear,his office location is the last thing on his list of priorities.
“The big deal was getting here,and now that we’re here,working on the legislative priorities that El Paso has,” O’Rourke said. “Fixing our problems at our international bridges,making the most of the investment at Fort Bliss,turning things around at the VA and ultimately getting a full service veterans hospital in El Paso and then countless constituent issues that people in El Paso are counting on us to work on for them. Those are the things that I’m focused on.”
At the end of the day,O’Rourke got one of the less-desirable offices on the seventh floor of the Longworth Office Building. His office,No. 1721,at the back of the building,overlooks C Street.
Reach reporter Kristopher Rivera at [email protected] or 202-326-9865. SHFWire stories are free to any news organization that gives the reporter a byline and credits the SHFWire.