Louisiana will soon send a new senator and two new congressmen to Washington, D.C.
And while most people understand there might be a bit of an adjustment period as they learn to navigate the Capitol and national political stage, one thing gives Louisiana's soon-to-be newly elected leaders what could be considered an added disadvantage.
Because of Louisiana's quirky election laws, in which many races that have no incumbent are decided in December runoffs, the latest crop of freshmen from Louisiana just missed what's essentially a crash course on how to be a member of Congress. The other new members from other states went through orientation last week.
U.S. Rep. Ralph Abraham, R-Alto, recalled of his arrival in Washington, D.C., a little less than two years ago.
"You come in in somewhat of a snowstorm," Abraham said. "Everything's already going on."
"You're thrown into the middle of the game and expected to score some touchdowns," he said.
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Louisiana voters will be deciding new U.S. representatives for the Third and Fourth congressional districts and one incoming senator when they head to the polls for the Dec. 10 runoff.
Early voting begins Saturday and runs through Dec. 3.
In the Third District, Republicans Scott Angelle and Clay Higgins will face off. In the Fourth, Republican Mike Johnson faces Democrat Marshall Jones.
In the Senate race, Republican John Kennedy faces Democrat Foster Campbell.
Though candidates from Louisiana are all invited because our elections are undecided, none of the candidates sat in on this year's weeklong orientation session for the House nor shorter session that's held by the Senate.
The traditional Congressional orientation period not only offers a chance for the incoming class to get refreshers on the legislative process and ethics laws, it also includes information on things like setting up official websites, maintaining office budgets, taking official portraits and using office equipment.
Louisiana's newest congressmen and incoming senator also didn't get a chance to vote on leadership teams and rules that the chambers will operate under.
And new members from Louisiana do not get a make-up session.
"If they do, I missed the memo," Abraham joked. "We were just thrown into the frying pan and expected to go to work."
Abraham said he didn't realize all that he had missed out on until last week, when he had a chance to take part in the debate on House rules.
"I love good open debate," he said. "I like to hear both sides of the issue."
The Senate candidates say they aren't much concerned by the potential disadvantage.
"My complete and total focus is on connecting with voters, winning this race, and beating Foster Campbell who spends his days crusading against the oil and gas industry and for Obamacare," Kennedy said.
Said Campbell: “Whether I get there first or last I promise you this, when I get to Washington I’ll take some hide off of them. I’ll fight to get a position on committees that can help Louisiana, and I’ll fight like hell for our people.”
Abraham said it won't be hard for Louisiana's newest members to make it through the adjustment period.
"What helped me a lot and will certainly help them is that when you come in, every member of Congress, they know that you need a bit of mentoring and a bit of guidance," Abraham said. "Every member that I asked, and sometimes didn't even have to ask, helped me in any form or fashion that I needed."
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U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-Baton Rouge, said he also thinks it will be fine.
"For me, it was no big deal," said Cassidy, who was elected to the Senate two years ago after having served six years in the House. "They just have to find a way to break it all down."
But he said missing out on the orientation opportunity does illustrate why it will be important for incoming lawmakers to make good hires in their offices who are familiar with ethics, policy and procedure and other issues that could arise.
"You try to make good hires so you stay within the letter and spirit of what's going on," Cassidy said.
Abraham said he felt fortunate that his committee assignments came easily.
"We just simply asked and we got them," he said. "Hopefully it's just as easy for the other members coming in."
And being the last one assigned an office worked out. Abraham's office was under renovation at the time that everyone else moved in, but came open around the time he won his runoff.
"That was just a lucky hole I fell into — I got a great office," he said. "We picked a good short straw and got lucky."
Cassidy said he thinks that there is only one thing that new members need to know about office assignments: "The worst office as a senator is a great office," he said. "The office isn't defined by the floor plan but by the job you're asked to perform."