Rep.-elect Johnson learning the ins, outs of Washington, D.C.
By David Skolnick
U.S. Rep.-elect Bill Johnson had just arrived at a Washington, D.C., hotel for incoming freshman House orientation when he was met by a Fox News television crew before he could even check in.
Such is the life of one of the 94 House-elect members.
The incoming members, 85 Republicans and nine Democrats, are in Washington, D.C., for orientation, which includes hours of presentations and meetings about serving in Congress, how to get their staffs and offices organized, and other issues related to their new jobs.
Johnson, of Poland, a Republican, defeated two-term U.S. Rep. Charlie Wilson, a Democrat from St. Clairsville, for Ohio’s 6th Congressional District seat during the Nov. 2 election.
As one of the first incoming freshman to arrive at the L’Enfant Plaza Hotel in Washington on Sunday morning, he was greeted by the Fox News TV crew. The car’s two “Bill Johnson for Congress” stickers were a giveaway as to who was in the vehicle.
Johnson said Tuesday that the interview was a nice surprise, but he isn’t overwhelmed by the attention.
It’s nothing new for Johnson, who was interviewed last week by The Wall Street Journal.
“There’s a lot of interest in this Congress and a lot of expectations,” Johnson told The Vindicator during a Tuesday telephone interview. “A big voice was heard on Nov. 2, and America expects us to make a difference on Obama-care, cutting taxes and cutting spending.”
Johnson is one of at least 35 incoming House members with no elected experience.
“There’s a lot to learn, but it’s not overwhelming,” he said. “It’s pretty much the logistics. Where to go, how to get your office set up.”
Orientation is over Friday, but Johnson is staying in D.C. till Saturday to attend events conducted by the politically conservative Heritage Foundation.
Johnson is accepting r sum s for jobs on his staff and already has received several. His plan is to first hire a chief of staff.
Johnson is looking for “someone who’s a fast learner. There’s a lot to put in place so leadership and management skills are important.”
Johnson also is determining where his local offices will be in the 12-county district that includes all of Columbiana County and about half of Mahoning County.
Each incoming member of the House is being mentored by an existing member.
For Johnson, that’s U.S. Rep. Pat Tiberi of Genoa Township, Ohio, R-12th, a member of presumptive Speaker of the House John Boehner’s inner circle. Genoa Township is near Columbus.
Johnson said he “reached out” to Tiberi because he got to know the congressman during the campaign, primarily through members of his campaign staff who knew the incumbent.
Johnson said he had a brief conversation with Wilson on the night of the election, but hasn’t spoken to him since.
“We’ll get together at some point,” Johnson said of his defeated foe to discuss the transition.
Johnson isn’t sure where he’ll live in Washington, D.C., mentioning how expensive housing is in the area.
“We could rent a place or share one,” he said.
There are some incoming House members who plan to sleep in their offices.
“I don’t plan to [do that], but that is certainly an option,” Johnson said.