WASHINGTON - West Virginia's 1st Congressional District again has Republican representation as Wheeling architect and business leader David B. McKinley took the oath of office Wednesday from new House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio.
McKinley was surrounded by family and friends throughout the day as festivities were interspersed with dramatic changes in congressional leadership and Republican promises for a rematch on President Obama's recently passed health care reform legislation and pushes for job creation and reducing federal spending.
Many McKinley supporters who journeyed from West Virginia watched the swearing-in ceremony on television screens at the Capitol Hill Club in Republican National Committee headquarters, across the street from the Cannon House Office Building, where in Room 313 McKinley has his new Washington office.
Boehner participates in a ceremonial House swearing-in ceremony for Rep. David McKinley, R-W.Va., Wednesday.
Space in the House chamber and in the gallery was limited and security was tight. The new congressman had 17 members of his family in Washington for the occasion, including his grandsons, Jackson and Davey, who joined McKinley on the House floor during the ceremony.
More than 50 supporters and campaign workers traveled to the nation's capital to see McKinley take office, filling the seat vacated by Rep. Robert Mollohan, the Democrat heir to the seat his father had held but who lost in the primary to Morgantown's Mike Oliverio. Oliverio was beaten in the general election by McKinley.
Among those joining McKinley's inauguration celebration were two other West Virginia Republicans, Rep. Shelley Moore Capito and lawyer Mac Warner of Morgantown, who narrowly lost to McKinley in the Republican primary but who endorsed him immediately after the votes were counted.
Both spoke highly of McKinley and expressed confidence that he will do well in Washington.
"I'm happy to be in the House with another Republican from West Virginia," Capito said. "I've known David for 20 years, and we've campaigned together and worked together on a range of issues."
Capito said she expected the West Virginia legislative delegation in Washington, including Sen. Joe Manchin, a Democrat who replaced the late Robert C. Byrd, to be able to reach common ground on a number of issues.
"Energy issues, coal, natural gas and job creation are all very important for our state," Capito said, expressing confidence that on these and other fronts elected officials would be able to work well together in bipartisan fashion.
"At the end of the day, it's about the 1.8 million people who live in West Virginia," Capito said.
Warner also said that during and after the campaign, as he came to know McKinley better, he developed confidence in the candidate he challenged for the chance to take Mollohan's former seat.
"Once he beat me, I knew his politics and his policies were right," Warner said in an exclusive interview. "That's why I know he is going to be good for the country, for the Congress and for West Virginia."
After taking office, McKinley took time out from meeting and greeting well wishers to issue a statement reiterating his campaign themes: protecting West Virginia's coal industry, beating back "ObamaCare" and pushing against obstacles to job creation.
"I am honored to be sworn in as a member of the 112th Congress," McKinley said. "It is a great privilege to serve the people of northern West Virginia, and I am truly humbled by it."
"We are ready to roll up our sleeves representing the values and interests of the district in Washington," the new congressman continued, calling President Obama's health care policies "a job killer" and vowing to try to "repeal and replace it."
"Another piece of the president's destructive economic agenda that we must stop is his War on Coal," the statement continues. "Coal and other energy sources provide tens of thousands of West Virginia jobs, and I consider them our state's lifeblood.
"I look forward to using my Energy and Commerce Committee assignment to curb the EPA's over-regulation, which is stifling the energy industry and stifling the creation of more jobs," McKinley said.
McKinley's team in Washington will include perhaps as many as eight full-time congressional employees, according to his new chief of staff Andrew D. Sere, 27, who previously served the Republican National Campaign Committee as its southeast regional press secretary and before that worked on campaigns across the country.
Sere', who prefers to be called Andy, said staffing levels in their Washington and district offices remain in flux, owing to budget uncertainties related to Boehner's promise to cut spending by reducing congressional budgets by 5 percent.
"Our Wheeling office opened on Monday in the Federal Building," Sere said, adding that besides an office in Morgantown, there may be one or two others. "We'll have roughly eight staff in Washington and perhaps eight more across the district."
Sere said his primary responsibility is to make sure this office functions "to serve the people of the 1st District of West Virginia," an objective literally inscribed on the walls of McKinley's new House offices.
One of McKinley's daughters, perhaps aware of the disconnect between what happens in Washington and back home in legislators' districts, had what will serve as the new congressman's motto and a reminder to his staff what his priorities are inscribed on the wall facing all who enter the office.
"Our Vision: '... to help the citizens of West Virginia achieve the highest quality of life.'"
And around the corner in the next office, another sign inscribed on the wall asks staffers: "What have you done for the citizens of West Virginia today?"