He officially doesn't become a "congressman" until Thursday's swearing in of the 113th Congress, but North Carolina Rep.-elect Richard Hudson already has a congressional resume many members would kill for. And he's just beginning.
Hudson is just one of four Republicans who knocked off a sitting Democrat House member in November's election, and he's maneuvered himself on to key committees including a subcommittee chairmanship on Homeland Security, the GOP whip team and into the freshman slot on the critical steering committee that hands out committee assignments.
His secret: Hudson's a passionate conservative in a GOP caucus that is becoming more conservative, and he's a Capitol Hill veteran, having been a chief of staff to three lawmakers. "He knows how it's played here," said an ally.
Hudson, 41, told Secrets he never considered a House seat while toiling on the Hill, but said that Washington's spending drove him to challenge former Rep. Larry Kissell who he beat in a run-away. "I just got so fed up," he said, with debt, spending and unemployment issues. "I ran for office to stop the insanity," he added.
"My hope is that we can get serious about spending," he said, adding that helping small businesses add jobs is another key agenda item.
Hudson said he would have voted against the spending-laden "fiscal cliff" bill and is bracing for the next big fight over extending the debt ceiling.
But he doesn't blame Speaker John Boehner for the deal, suggesting that conservatives have to define exactly what they will agree with to help leadership negotiate with the White House.
"We as conservatives have to stand up on principle," he said. "Conservatives have to define limits. We need lines in the sand so we can help pull leadership our way," added Hudson. "It starts with consensus."
Hudson plans to display his frugal approach while celebrating his swearing in. Instead of lavish party for friends, he's renting a bus to cart 80 supporters around Washington's monuments and is serving up North Carolina-made Cheerwine soda at a reception Thursday in the House Agriculture Committee room.