One box at a time, staffers are packing up U.S. Rep. John Spratt's Rock Hill office and preparing to hand over legislative duties to Republican Mick Mulvaney.
A sign posted on the door tells constituents to seek help from the offices of Sens. Lindsey Graham and Jim DeMint.
"Our offices are in the process of closing, and cannot take on any new casework," spokesman Chuck Fant said Friday. "We're asking folks who need assistance to contact the offices of Senator Graham or DeMint."
District aides for Spratt were at work Friday morning preparing to vacate the office, housed for 28 years in a suite on the top floor of the Gettys Center on East Main Street.
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Artists occupy other spaces in the historic downtown building, a 1930s-era former post office and federal court house. A neighboring tenant said the top floor would make a nice spot for an artist.
Mulvaney, who defeated Spratt with 55 percent of the vote in the Nov. 2 election, has not announced where he will open district offices.
"Congressman-elect Mulvaney cannot open new casework files or district offices until he is sworn into office on January 3rd," said Mulvaney spokesman Bryan Partridge. "We will be happy to accept all cases that are in progress when his (Spratt's) term expires."
The 5th Congressional District spans 14 counties across the upper third of South Carolina, including the cities of Rock Hill, York, Lancaster and Sumter.
Strange role for incumbent
This is a new experience for local Democrats. The last two transitions came with plenty of notice as retiring Rep. Tom Gettys turned things over to successor Ken Holland in 1974, and Holland did the same for Spratt when he retired in 1982.
The last time an incumbent lost in the 5th District was 1932, when William F. Stevenson, a Democrat from Chesterfield, lost in a primary to James P. Richards of Lancaster County.
Voters in the district have not elected a Republican since Reconstruction.
In Washington, D.C., Spratt must move out of his congressional office by Dec. 1. In its place, the staff gets a smaller space in the Ford House Office Building with a desk, computer and phone.
As outgoing budget chairman, Spratt has until Dec. 31 to move out of his budget committee offices.
Spratt will meet next week with an archivist from the University of South Carolina to arrange for handing over his papers for storage, Fant said.
In the meantime, Mulvaney and other newly elected members of Congress arrive on Capitol Hill this weekend for a freshman orientation. Offices will be assigned to members in a lottery on Friday.
Former Spratt constituents must fill out new forms to open cases with other offices. During the transition, Graham's staff can help from its office at 140 E. Main St.
"Anyone that had a case with Spratt's office can call us or Senator DeMint and we'll be happy to handle it," said Kevin Bishop, a spokesman for Graham.