WASHINGTON (Gray DC) -- Virginia Representative Bob Goodlatte is in the final days of his 26-year career in Washington. But his influence will remain on the Hill as his prot?g? Ben Cline takes over the Virginia Sixth's seat next week.
Rockbridge County Republican Cline says he has big shoes to fill in the new year. With Goodlatte on his way out the door, Cline - his former staffer - takes his place on Capitol Hill.
"That drive and determination that he had up here for his constituents is a drive that I share, that I'm going to continue," said Cline.
After years representing Shenandoah Valley interests in Virginia's General Assembly, voters promoted him to Congress. The new job is off to a good start for Cline. Of the 85 new hires, he got first dibs on an office.
"I laugh that it's the worst lottery on earth," said Cline.
Cline scooped up one of the largest offices, ideal for hosting constituents and with easy access to the House floor.
"Right above the Dunkin' Donuts, so that's key, right," joked Cline.
Fully-caffeinated, Cline anticipates long hours, helping farmers get out from under high taxes and over-regulation, easing student debt burdens, and curbing the bottleneck on Interstate 81.
Goodlatte doesn't expect Cline to have any problem gaining traction on Capitol Hill.
"He'll hit the ground running. He has way more experience than I had when I was first elected to Congress, so I'm looking for great things from Ben, and I'm glad to see him get off to a flying start," said Goodlatte.
New members officially take office Jan. 3. Their first big hurdle may be overcoming a political stalemate over the budget and the border wall.