Despite the crowd and the heat, it was a truly great time--Doug & Telisha played "America the Beautiful" to an absolutely packed room in the Rayburn office building, and the crowd sang along. Some were moved to tears.
In his short speech, Tom discussed the need to shift focus from the excitement of the
campaign to the necessity of governing, noting the very pressing issues facing the country today. He didn't mention this in his speech, but he and the other freshmen had just devoted their first day in Congress to the enormous stimulus package currently being proposed by the incoming Obama Administration. I wish I had recorded everything Tom said, since it was very inspiring as always; this event made me all the more certain that he will be an excellent congressman. He spoke a lot in the campaign about the need to work across party lines to solve our problems, and I know beyond doubt that he will do his part to make that happen.
Tom received a great introduction from none other than Virginia's senior senator Jim Webb, who shook hands and made the rounds. Senator Mark Warner arrived soon after, followed by Jim and Brian Moran (Potentially a very brilliant political move on Brian's part, since he was the only gubernatorial candidate in the room full of party activists). Also in attendance were 3rd district Rep. Bobby Scott, as well as former 5th district candidate Al Weed and former 5th Rep. L.F. Payne. Numerous county chairs from throughout the district also made an appearance--all in all it was a who's who of influential Democrats from around the state, but with a heavy 5th district emphasis. I may have missed a few faces since it was such a packed house, and for the same reason I was not able to get very good pictures. I was, however, able to snap one last one as we left the Rayburn office building:
UPDATE: Tom has been assigned to the Committee on Transportation & Infrastructure. This committee assignment was by all accounts in high demand among freshmen congressmen, given President-Elect Obama's huge infrastructure plans. This committee could not be more relevant to the 5th district and will help Perriello make an immediate impact on our area.