Post by Jason Plotkin
I was freaking out.
John Boehner was just voted in as the Speaker of the House.
I was sitting on a bottom step in the upper balcony of the House in the Capitol, squished between another photographer and a lobbyist who kept asking me to move because she couldn’t see.
I ignored her, because I couldn’t see either. At least not for who I was looking for.
You see, I wasn’t freaked out because I couldn’t see John Boehner. I wasn’t there for him.
All I kept thinking was, “Where the heck is Scott Perry?”
Let me go back a few hours.
YDR reporter Ed Mahon and I drove down to Washington, D.C., early Thursday, Jan. 3, to document the swearing-in of Scott Perry, the new Representative from the 4th Congressional District.
I’d like to say that Ed and I found our way around Washington and the Capitol building without incident. But that would be lying. Getting around in the Capitol was a comical ball of stress as we tried to get our credentials and meet Perry in his office.
After we met with him and an office full of media for an interview session, he made his way over to the House floor for his first session and swearing-in.
I moved up to the balcony and looked over the crowd of politicians and their families in the hopes of keeping Perry in my viewfinder to capture the moment when he raised his hand and became official.
In a sea of suits, I spotted him.
I thought they were going to do the swearing-in ceremony first, but I was wrong.
What came next were the nominations for Speaker of the House and then the voting.
What I didn’t know was that each and every Congressman in the room would vote – one at a time – for their choice for speaker.
This process took hours. While I appreciated being in the room for a historic moment, the pain in my old knees and back were not as appreciative.
Throughout the voting, I kept one thing in mind. “Keep your eyes on Perry.”
I watched him move from his seat to a group of men in the back. After casting his vote for Boehner, he moved around in the back and into the aisles.
That’s when I made my mistake.
I tweeted out a photo of Perry casting his first vote. It only took me a few minutes.
But that’s all it took.
Boehner was voted in and was making his way down the aisle and up to the podium. I looked to see what Perry’s reaction was, but he wasn’t where I last saw him. He wasn’t in any of the spots I had seen him before.
While Nancy Pelosi and Boehner were giving their speeches, I was scanning the crowd for Perry. In addition to that, I was texting Ed and Bob Reilly, Perry’s Deputy Chief of Staff. Nobody could see him.
I was freaking out.
Boehner was sworn in as speaker and then asked everyone to raise their hands and prepare to be sworn in as well.
I threw a photo “Hail Mary.”
I began to just scan the room, holding down the shutter button on my camera and hoping that I would catch him in one of my frames.
As I made my way from left to right, I spotted him. He was standing in the back with his right hand up and in his left arm he was holding his 20-month-old daughter Mattea. The thing that confused me was that he was alone the entire time for the vote, and now he was there with his daughter.
I didn’t give myself enough time to care why.
It took me all but a quick rotation and a heavy finger on my shutter to get this photo as Perry took his oath.
After this was over, I wanted to punch Perry.
Not in a serious, knock down, drag out brawl. With his military background – and my background at being a wuss – I would have been the one knocked down and dragged out.
No I just wanted to pop him in the arm and let him know how he gave me a heart attack.
I joked with his family, asking them if they were OK with me punching him.
They laughed and gave me their blessing.
So when I finally caught up with him and we were standing face to face, the first thing I said to the newly sworn in congressman:
“Duuuuude! You gave me a heart attack!”
I know. It screams professional.
He laughed and told me what happened. Apparently, Perry had learned that his daughters were waiting for him right outside the floor and his youngest was crying. He gave them chocolate milk to calm them down and in the process, almost missed being sworn in. He scrambled back to the floor and made it just in time.
It was a funny story. I was never seriously angry.
Besides, I’m a father of two daughters.
Both of whom like to play “Where’s Waldo?”
I think I pass on that game for a while.