Rep. John Spratt is comfortable analyzing a nuclear disarmament treaty or dissecting a budget, but he finds packing a cardboard box difficult.
On a November morning, the 68-year-old South Carolinian surveyed his half-empty office, where bare shelves had been stripped of mementos accumulated over a 28-year Congressional tenure.
An archivist has recently visited Spratt’s office, packing up official papers, which researchers will later sort and catalog.
“Thank God for the University of South Carolina archives,” he says. “I don’t know if I have the stomach to do that.”
Spratt, who was swept out of office in the midterm elections, is saying goodbye to a Congressional career and to the colleagues he loves. And he’s finding that what he’s amassed over the decades isn’t easily tucked away into boxes.
Spratt professes, in his soft South Carolina drawl, that he’s at peace with his ouster, even a little relieved to have the bruising campaign behind him.
“I have grandchildren that I can spend more time with, I have projects I’d like to pursue and personal matters that have gone unattended for a long time,” he says. “All in all, it works out well for me.”
Spratt’s defeat to first-term state Senator Mick Mulvaney was one of the most bitter losses for Democrats.
Its plotline would warm the heart of any GOP political operative: Stoked by a national wave, upstart Republican topples longtime Democratic incumbent, despite the incumbent’s personal popularity and centrist leanings.
Some analysts pin Spratt’s loss on an unaggressive campaign that didn’t take Mulvaney’s challenge seriously until too late. Spratt in part credits an influx of third-party spending on ads slamming him as a Washington insider, beholden to party leaders.
Majority Whip James Clyburn, whose district adjoins Spratt’s, cites his genteel friend’s reluctance to go negative — either against his opponent or against polarizing national Democratic figures such as Speaker Nancy Pelosi or President Barack Obama.
Rep. Bill Cassidy has his blood drawn by Alesha Barbour during a free hepatitis screening in the Rayburn House Office Building hosted by the Congressional Viral Hepatitis Caucus to recognize "National Viral Hepatitis Testing Day."
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