COLUMBIA — Being in the minority is nothing new for Blaine Luetkemeyer, Missouri's newest congressman.
The conservative Republican businessman from Miller County joined 53 new House members and nine new senators who were sworn in Tuesday in the 111th Congress. He is the state's only new addition.
Luetkemeyer said he has no reservations about working with a Democratic-controlled Congress. He faced a similar situation as a state lawmaker in Jefferson City from 1999 to 2005.
"Most issues are not Democrat versus Republican," he said shortly before taking his oath of office. "If you want to get something done, you find those people who can support you and line up support as you go along."
Luetkemeyer defeated Democrat Judy Baker for the 9th District House seat left open by Republican Kenny Hulshof's unsuccessful bid for Missouri governor. An insurance company owner and bank executive in St. Elizabeth, he poured $1.5 million of his own money into the congressional race.
Luetkemeyer's win helped Republicans preserve their 5-4 majority in the state's House delegation. He credited longtime incumbent Rep. Roy Blunt, a fellow Republican from southwest Missouri, with serving as "a real mentor" during the first few, frantic days in Washington.
Asked to identify his first-term priorities, Luetkemeyer didn't single out specific issues. He instead pledged to be an effective advocate for his district, which covers 25 counties from northeast Missouri to the Interstate 70 corridor between St. Charles and Columbia. The district includes Columbia, Hannibal, Kirksville, Hermann, Franklin County and a part of the Lake of the Ozarks.
"I'm not a single-issue candidate," he said. "I'm not here to carry the banner for any particular thing."
Like Hulshof, Luetkemeyer will keep district offices in Hannibal, Washington and Columbia.