More than a month before taking office, Brett Guthrie learned that in Washington, D.C., some elevators don’t go all the way to the top floor.
In his first official introduction to the House of Representatives, Guthrie experienced a hectic week of meetings, tours and presentations.
He received his office assignment Friday. By tradition, freshman legislators draw for position to determine a selection order for what’s left after other House members have picked office space.
Of the 54 representatives-elect selecting, Guthrie drew No. 54.
“I didn’t run for election to get a good office,” Guthrie said. “I ran to represent the interests of the people of the 2nd Congressional District.”
Despite having the last pick, Guthrie said he’s happy with his spot in Room 510 of the Cannon House Office Building. The only drawback, some elevators in the building stop at the fourth floor.
It seems the fifth floor was added after the original four-story construction. He’s been told that only two elevators reach the top level.
“I hope when people come to Washington to see me, they can find their way to the office,” Guthrie said.
The Bowling Green businessman replaces fellow Republican Ron Lewis.
Guthrie takes the oath of office Jan. 6 and becomes part of the 111th Congress. In the meantime, he has a lot to decide. House members have an average budget of $1.3 million annually. That must cover his Washington staff, district field offices and travel.
He said budgeting and staff decisions will be made over the next few weeks. With Republicans losing spots in Congress and giving up the White House, Guthrie said a lot of Washington staffers are looking for work.
Guthrie established a free e-mail site to accept applications for available jobs. The address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
During his initial week on Capitol Hill, Guthrie briefly captured the attention of the national media. His widely repeated quote put the focus on service.
“We feel that we are coming here to be a statesman,” he said on behalf of his fellow first-term legislators.
Guthrie said it was a sincere sentiment, not just a political sound bite tailored for media consumption.
“If we don’t change the culture in Washington, we are not going to be able to govern this country,” he said.
Guthrie spent part of his trip to Washington trying to find a place to spend his off-duty hours. Rental property comes at a premium inside the Beltline.
“Rent here is the same as my mortgage, and that’s for a studio apartment,” he said.
The rent comes out of his own pocket, not the office budget. As of Jan. 1, the annual salary of a House member is set at $169,300.
Guthrie has not determined when he will resign his state Senate seat, which represents Warren and Butler counties. A special election must be scheduled to select a person to fill the final two years of his present term.
Guthrie said he’s been in consultation with Senate President David Williams regarding the best timing to step down. If the legislature is in session, Williams sets the election date. Outside the General Assembly session that duty falls to Gov. Steve Beshear.
Either way it must be scheduled within 35 days of the resignation which Guthrie said would allow his replacement to be seated in time for the bulk of next year’s state legislative session.