Graves Named GOP Freshman of the Year After Several Weeks in Office

Posted July 23, 2010 at 3:40pm

Updated: 5 p.m.

Georgia Rep. Tom Graves received the Freshman of the Year award from his fellow first-term GOP colleagues, according to a release from his office, only six weeks after being sworn in.

Graves won a special election to fill the seat left vacant by Rep. Nathan Deal (R), who resigned in March to focus on his gubernatorial bid.

Graves was sworn in on June 14, and in that short period of time he has apparently managed to make an impression.

Freshman Republicans voted unanimously to honor Graves for “embodying the spirit of individual liberty, free market principles and representative self-government,” according to a release Thursday from Graves’ office.

“Your short tenure here in Congress has provided many members of this chamber with a refreshing perspective on how to tackle the challenges that lay ahead,” said a July 15 letter from freshman Republicans to Graves.

In that statement, Rep. Bill Posey (R-Fla.) praised Graves as “a rising star” who has “hit the ground running, proposing ideas and putting forward common sense solutions.” Aside from the attributes listed in the letter, it was unclear on Friday what criteria a Member must meet in order to receive the award, although it appears to have little to do with legislative victories. Graves has yet to introduce a bill in the 111th Congress, according to CQ records.

George Cecala, a spokesman for Posey, said Graves was selected because he “injected a new energy into this class and has brought in some new ideas.”

Cecala said the freshman class recently recognized Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) with an award for the best legislation of the 111th Congress, and he added that more awards will be given in the coming weeks.

“I am deeply humbled and honored to accept this great award,” Graves said in the statement from his office. “The members of my Republican Freshman Class exceeded my expectations when they welcomed me to the House and I am truly grateful for this honor.”

Graves faces an August runoff after falling short of the 50 percent of the vote he needed to avoid a runoff in a crowded GOP primary Tuesday.

He will again face former state Sen. Lee Hawkins, whom he defeated in the June 8 special election runoff. Graves is heavily favored to win next month’s contest.