At 6:45 p.m. Wednesday night, New Jersey's 1st Congressional District will have its first new representative in more than 20 years.
Current State Sen. Donald Norcross (D-5 of Camden) will take the oath of office on the floor of the house, filling the remaining weeks of former U.S. Rep. Rob Andrews' unexpired term, which was left vacant after his resignation in February.
Norcross, who won a decisive victory over his Republican opponent Garry Cobb in last week's election, will begin his own full, two-year term in January, but in the meantime will enjoy some of the benefits of the seniority Andrews built up over 12 terms in Congress.
He'll have a leg-up over the other incoming representative when it comes to committee assignments, and said Wednesday he would specifically like to serve on the House Committee of Energy and Commerce, but that with his background, he's also interested in the House Education and Workforce Committee and the House Armed Services Committee. He said he was spending Wednesday meeting with the leadership to work out logistics and advocate for his committee assignments.
"In Washington, seniority speaks for itself. It's an important item to have and being ahead of 57 other [incoming U.S. Representatives] is certainly a step up when it comes to committee assignments, which ultimately we're looking for to help our constituents in the 1st District," Norcross said in a conference call with reporters Wednesday afternoon.
Norcross said he will occupy Andrews' former offices in both the Rayburn House Office Building in Washington D.C. and his district office on Grove Street in Haddon Heights.
The office will be open to constituents — who have been without a representative since February — for the remaining part of the Congressional session, after which Norcross said they will "evaluate the best locations for us," either in Haddon Heights or a different location.
Norcross, who lives in the Victor apartment building in Camden, said he'll be making the two-hour train commute to D.C. from Camden for the time being, and will figure out whether or not to set up a residence in the capital.
"That will be my plan until we fully look at the time constraints of both, and certainly talking with my wife. It's a very important issue," Norcross said.
He'll be joined by his family Wednesday night, when he said his 10-year-old grandson Donald Norcross III will join him on the floor for the swearing-in ceremony, where only children under the age of 12 are allowed.
"It's quite an honor for his poppy to have him by his side," said Norcross.
While he faces an uphill battle as a member of the minority party in the Republican-controlled house during the lame duck session, Norcross said he's hoping to focus on working to securing extensions for unemployment benefits as well as the economy and creating jobs in the near future.
"I was an electrician for many, many years, and understanding some of the complex issues in trying to get the economy growing is something I deal with every day," said Norcross, who has served as a State Senator since 2010.
His soon-to-be vacant state Senate seat in the 5th district is expected be filled shortly by an appointment, which will be chosen by both Camden and Gloucester counties' Democratic Committees.
1st District constituents — residents of 14 Gloucester County municipalities, 36 Camden County municipalities and 2 Burlington County municipalities — can contact Norcross' Haddon Heights office at (856) 546-5100. It is located on 515 Grove Street, Suite 3C.