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Columbia Missourian

Luetkemeyer heads to D.C., discusses his Congressional priorities

By Brian Eason
November 17, 2008 | 5:54 p.m. CST

COLUMBIA — Blaine Luetkemeyer, the 9th District U.S. Representative-elect, is in Washington, D.C., this week for Congressional orientation, where newly elected members learn the ropes about the rules and regulations of the office.

Before he left for Capitol Hill, Luetkemeyer, a Republican from St. Elizabeth, shed light on some of his legislative priorities.

"Well, I think the priorities are to represent the people of this district," Luetkemeyer said.  "They've sent us to D.C."

Many of the committees on Luetkemeyer's wish list have a direct impact on Missouri's 9th, a diverse district with large swaths of farm land and the city of Columbia.

Luetkemeyer has targeted the committees on Transportation and Infrastructure, Energy and Commerce, and Education and Labor, citing the district's highways and rivers, the Callaway Nuclear Plant and funding for MU as important issues.

Luetkemeyer also has expressed interest in committees that fall in line with his own areas of expertise, the committees on Financial Services and Agriculture. A former state bank examiner, Luetkemeyer is co-owner of the Luetkemeyer Insurance Agency and has worked at the family-owned Bank of St. Elizabeth. And, Luetkemeyer has raised hogs and cattle intermittently since relying on livestock to help pay for college.

Members of Congress typically serve on three committees and a handful of subcommittees.

But first up for Luetkemeyer is assembling a Congressional staff of up to 22 members, something he plans to do with the coordination of Rep. Kenny Hulsof, R-Columbia.

"I want to sit down and talk," Luetkemeyer said. "We'll interview all his people. We'll get some people from our staff and integrate some from his staff."

State Rep. Judy Baker, D-Columbia, who lost to Luetkemeyer by a margin of 2.5 percent, said she hopes the congressman-elect can represent a variety of viewpoints.

"I think that the district has spoken loudly that the makeup of the district is changing, and that the issues that are important to the people of the district are the ones that we outlined in our campaign," Baker said. "So I hope that they don't go unheeded. I hope that the people in Congress will work on the things that we talked about in this campaign, and I feel certain that they will."

Luetkemeyer insisted his job was to represent the whole district.

"I think if you look at my record in Jefferson City, I've done that," Luetkemeyer said. "Once the election's over, you've got to represent all the people, even (those who) didn't vote for you."