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Freshman Lottery Doles Out New Office Space

Bill Clark/Roll Call
Rep.-elect Cory Gardner celebrates after drawing the No. 1 pick in the House office lottery for newly elected Members of Congress on Friday morning.

Freshman GOP leader Rep.-elect Tim Scott (S.C.) brought along his mother, Frances, to pick for him. She drew No. 44 — not a bad result out of 85, but coincidentally, also Scott’s high school football number.

While the pair may not be lucky, “we’re consistent,” Scott said.

One very unlucky — or out-of-practice freshman — Rep.-elect Robert Hurt (R-Va.), picked No. 85, but he got a conciliatory round of applause from his colleagues.

“I think it was a good omen,” Hurt said of his pick. “It makes my job a lot easier.”

And with that, the first and the last pick were off — Hurt, perhaps, to study policy and strategy, and Gardner to inspect furniture and square footage.

They had to be back at Rayburn around 1 p.m. to make the choices official, so Gardner’s first stop was Cannon House Office Building, where several 1,000-plus-square-foot offices were available. 

Word of his conquest traveled quickly. Majority Whip-designate Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) shot over a text message.

“He actually sent me a text and said, ‘Hey, congrats!’” Gardner said. “I said, ‘Got any advice?’ Kevin McCarthy’s official advice: ‘Go for size and lowest floor.’”

Gardner spent about two hours looking at about a dozen offices in Cannon and Longworth House Office Buildings.

After looking at several interior offices with views of the roof of the Cannon parking garages, Gardner had had about enough.

“You want to just focus on the outer?” Chief of Staff Chris Hansen asked.

“Yes,” Gardner replied.

With a unique floor plan and an entrance near C and First streets Southeast, Rep. Vern Buchanan’s (R-Fla.) 997-square-foot digs in 218 Cannon were among the first to draw Gardner’s eye.

“It’s close to the Capitol Hill Club” and the National Republican Congressional Committee, he said. “We could just tell constituents to go in this entrance and it’s right by the door,” he added of the building’s side entrance.

In the halls of the office buildings, Gardner’s pick earned him almost cult status. Bryon Noem, husband of Rep.-elect Kristi Noem (R-S.D.), did the “Wayne’s World” bow toward Gardner in the Cannon hall.

And anytime a Member-elect walked into a potential office to see Gardner already there, his head sank in disappointment as he assumed the office was off the market.

“They’re hounding me like, ‘What are you doing? What are you doing?’” he said. “So I fire back, ‘What’s your top choice?’”

By 11 a.m., Gardner and Hansen had huddled in the Longworth office of Rep. Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.). 

“If I end up on the Agriculture Committee, I’ll be right down the hall,” Gardner said.

Rep.-elect Tim Griffin (R-Ark.) walked in during his quest for rooms. He’d drawn No. 14, so he had good options. 

“I want to be close to the gym, because I’m going to sleep in my office,” Griffin told Gardner. But when asked, Griffin added, “Exercise? I want to be near the showers.”

“I do not want to see you in a bathrobe and slippers,” Gardner told him later.

Finally, Gardner ended up picking the office of Rep. John Barrow (D-Ga.), 213 Cannon.

He’ll be right down the hall from fellow Colorado Rep.-elect Scott Tipton (R), who chose room 218.

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