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Before he assumes his new role in Congress, Mick Mulvaney had to go back to school.
Mulvaney, who bested longtime Democratic incumbent U.S. Rep. John Spratt for the 5th District seat, headed to Washington, D.C., last month for his freshman orientation.
From Nov. 14 to Nov. 19, Mulvaney joined more than 100 incoming members of Congress as they learned the ins and outs of their new roles, including choosing offices, meeting staff and attending how-to seminars.
“There were a lot of seminars going over the structure, telling you who’s responsible for helping get legislation drafted, who helps with research, things like that,” Mulvaney said. “We looked at everything – from the mundane to the really specific on the legislative process.”
Bryan Partridge, Mulvaney’s spokesman, said the orientation was an “all-encompassing” look at the issues and processes important to congressmen, such as how to write and introduce bills. He said incoming members of Congress were also introduced to the rules of the U.S. House and the class of incoming freshmen congress members participated in leadership elections.
“His schedule that week was one solid page of red – full of daytime seminars, instruction and important lunches,” Partidge said.
On the last day of orientation, Patridge said the incoming freshmen members had office selection.
Mulvaney, who’s served for two years as a state senator for District 16, said the orientation process was similar to an introduction he received to both the state House and Senate. Mulvaney served one term in the S.C. House before he was elected to the Senate in 2008. Though there was a lot to cover in his orientation to Congress, he was already familiar with many of the procedures.
“About two-thirds of the incoming class have legislative experience, so there was a lot of repetition of what we learned in state legislature, but that was helpful for the new folks,” he said.
During his week of introductions, Mulvaney said one briefing about security really caught his attention.
“The most interesting thing to me and Pam (his wife) personally was the detailed briefing on security. That was very sobering,” he said. “They tell you the plans if there is a terrorist attack, if there is an anthrax scare, things like that. For you and me living in Lancaster County, those things seem distant, but this sort of drove it home.”
Mulvaney spent much of his time speaking with other South Carolina congressmen during the week, including Tim Scott, Trey Gowdy and Jeff Duncan. But the part of the week that stood out for Mulvaney the most was having a chance to speak with congressional leaders.
“It was interesting to me to get to know people and getting to meet with folks that you only see on TV,” he said. “I had a chance to meet Miss (Nancy) Pelosi.”
Mulvaney plans on traveling back to Washington this week to discuss party issues that will come up during his first session, something he’s really looking forward to.
“Those are the things I’m interested in,” he said. “I really could care less where my office is.”
Leaving state Senate
So when does Mulvaney officially leave the state Senate seat?
Mulvaney will be sworn in as the 5th District congress member on Jan. 5.
He said he has his letter of resignation ready to go, but has been waiting for a clerk with the U.S. House of Representatives to certify the results of his election. He said the certified results could be available as early as the next few days.
“As soon as the clerk in D.C. calls, I will sumbit my letter,” he said. “And that will start the clock on the election for the seat. The key day is when the letter is sent.”
“I wish I could’ve submitted my letter after the election, because the longer I wait, the longer it takes to get someone else placed in the seat,” he said.
Cassie Stump, director of the Lancaster County Voter Registration and Election Commission, said the process will begin once Mulvaney resigns from the state Senate.
Then, because it is a partisan election, candidate filing will open at noon on the third Friday following his resignation. The filing period will last for 10 days, closing at noon on the 10th day.
If more than one person runs in each party, there will have to be a primary, which will take place on the 11th Tuesday following his resignation. If a runoff is needed after the primary, that will occur on the 13th Tuesday after his resignation.
The special election will take place on the 18th Tuesday following his resignation.
Stump hopes the election process can begin soon, as the redistricting process by the state House and Senate is expected to begin early next year, once the Census 2010 numbers are released. She said having someone in the District 16 seat will be important for the process.
Contact reporter Chris Sardelli at firstname.lastname@example.org or (803) 416-8416