AP Photo/Susan Walsh
Thursday, Sept. 15, 2011 | 9:52 a.m.
Nevada’s newest member of Congress, Mark Amodei, was sworn in today to fill the House seat that’s been sitting empty since Dean Heller left to take over the Senate seat vacated by John Ensign in May.
Everything about the ceremony was pretty darn quick.
Amodei, a Republican, was elected Tuesday in a special election, handily beating his Democratic opponent by 20 points. The next procedural step is for Secretary of State Ross Miller to transmit the official credentials for the House’s approval, but Amodei -- and Bob Turner, the Republican who won a special election to fill Anthony Weiner’s empty seat in New York on Tuesday in an upset -- beat the mail.
“Although his certificate has not yet arrived, there is no contest and no question has been raised,” said Rep. Shelley Berkley, who as the seniormost member of the Nevada House delegation, as she introduced Amodei and asked for his recognition as a U.S. congressman.
Amodei took his oath buttressed by Rep. Joe Heck and Sen. Dean Heller to his right, and Nevada Rep. Shelley Berkley to his left. Sen. Harry Reid was not present for the ceremony; his office said he was busy with the business of the Senate at the time.
Then grinning, he spoke his first words as a national statesman -- and showed he knows how to work a crowd.
“Thank you Mr. Speaker, thank you brand-new colleagues for your courtesies,” he said. “I will endeavor to do the best I can to bring honor to this House and help you with the work that we have to do.
“And I was told the longer you talk the less popular you are,” he continued, “so I yield back my time. Thank you very much.”
It was smart calculation on his part: Amodei’s 16-second speech brought him 19 seconds of raucous laughs and applause.
Amodei’s ascending to the seat rounds out the Nevada delegation, and brings the House almost back to full force: there are now 242 Republicans, 192 Democrats, and one vacancy: the Oregon seat formerly occupied by David Wu.