Congressman-elect Ben Cline prepares to take over mentor's seat in Congress

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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) — Virginia Rep. Bob Goodlatte is in the final days of his 26-year career in Washington. But his influence will remain on the Hill as his protege Ben Cline takes over the Virginia 6th seat next week.

Rockbridge County Republican Ben Cline says he has big shoes to fill in the new year. With Goodlatte on his way out the door, Cline – his former staffer – takes his place on Capitol Hill.

"That drive and determination that he had up here for his constituents is a drive that I share, that I'm going to continue," said Cline.

After years representing Shenandoah Valley interests in Virginia's General Assembly, voters promoted him to Congress. The new job is off to a good start for Cline. Of the 85 new hires, he got first dibs on an office.

"I laugh that it's the worst lottery on earth," said Cline.

Cline scooped up one of the largest offices — ideal for hosting constituents — and with easy access to the House floor.

"Right above the Dunkin' Donuts, so that's key, right?" joked Cline.

Fully-caffeinated, Cline anticipates long hours, helping farmers get out from under high taxes and over regulations, easing student debt burdens, and curbing the bottleneck on Interstate 81.

In his acceptance speech, Cline said he "can work with a speaker of the opposite party to get a lot of issues accomplished, but I will not violate the principles on which I have run and of which I've governed for many years."

Goodlatte doesn't expect Cline to have any problem gaining traction on Capitol Hill.

"He'll hit the ground running — he has way more experience than I had when I was first elected to Congress, so I'm looking for great things from Ben, and I'm glad to see him get off to a flying start," said Goodlatte.

New members officially take office January 3rd. Their first big hurdle may be overcoming a political stalemate over the budget and the border wall.

Before even taking office, Cline has been hosting town halls with voters throughout the 6th District, tackling a major issue voters had with Goodlatte in recent years. He started with each of the few areas in the district where he lost to Democrat Jennifer Lewis: Staunton, Lexington, and Harrisonburg.