WASHINGTON - Unlike other freshmen members of Congress, Rep.-elect Scott Peters, D- Calif., didn't have to attend the House office lottery Friday to compete for a desirable office. Instead, he inherited the office in the Rayburn House Office Building occupied by his opponent, Rep. Brian P. Bilbray, R- Calif.
Peters went through a rough campaign and won the House seat from Bilbray by a slim margin. Because the results came in late, Bilbray had already selected an office according to his seven-term seniority.
"If my opponent had won, he would go back to his office. But since I was able to prevail, I am going to his office, which is a much more senior office that I would be typically entitled to," Peters said. "It is a very nice, spacious office."
Bilbray's nameplate has already been removed from the office door, and a stack of newspapers sat outside the door Friday morning.
If Peters wins a second term in two years, he will go back to the lottery with his class. It's unlikely he will have enough seniority to keep the Rayburn office and could end up in a smaller office in one of the two older House office buildings.
"For the next two years, I have a pretty nice office in the Rayburn building which is a prime real-estate here, I understand," he said.
Peters said he has a lot of plans before he is sworn in Jan. 3.
"I have a lot to learn, and I have a lot to set up," Peters said. "I am going to be looking to see how I can help San Diego and our county to make sure we have a good connection between the federal government and San Diego"
Peters said that 25 percent of the new Democratic caucus heard the same message from their constituents during the campaign: "We are sending you to solve problems not to fight political battles."
He said he hopes the leadership in both parties has heard the same message.
Peters said Washington is an interesting city but is much colder than San Diego. Temperatures here have been in the 30s overnight this week, with highs in the 50s.
"I do miss San Diego. ... It made me appreciate what a great place we live in," Peters said, adding that he is looking forward to getting home for the holidays.
Peters has rented an apartment in the Chinatown area, about a 20-minute walk from the Capitol.
"We may not have to bring a car out here, which would be great," he said.
He will commute to San Diego where his wife will live. They have two college-age children.
He is planning to explore the city in his free time.
"I do love a lot of the architecture here," he said. "There are some terrific museums. I hope I get some visits from constituents back in San Diego."
By Monica Ibrahim
Scripps Howard Foundation Wire