Thursday, Nov. 20, 2014 | 1:37 p.m.
Seated in the posh lobby of the Capitol Hill Hotel just blocks away from the U.S. Capitol on Tuesday, Cresent Hardy was tired, but excited.
Nevada's newest member of Congress was in the middle of a whirlwind seven days of orientation, learning what it takes to be a federal lawmaker. He'd collected stacks of paper listing guidelines for ethics, rules for overseas trips and strict security procedures for his office computers. He needs to hire staff for his tiny, fourth-floor congressional office and is collecting resumes for his team back in Nevada.
But above all else, Hardy is focused on how he can use his blend of Tea Party conservatism and pragmatic libertarianism to lift government's burden on Nevadans.
"On conservative measures, you won't find anybody more conservative than I am," said Hardy, a former Assemblyman who won a surprise election Nov. 4 to represent central Nevada and North Las Vegas. "I'm about as far right as you can get on the issues."
"But I'm a realist," he added, explaining he'll work with whoever shares his views.
Hardy is a self-described constitutional conservative who believes the federal government has overstepped its bounds on everything from healthcare to taxes.
His driving focus when he takes office Jan. 6,replacing first-term Democratic Rep. Steven Horsford, will be to require the federal government to balance its budget and stop running up the nation's debt.
Hardy also wants to try to give as much federal land in Nevada back to the state.
When asked how Hardy plans to accommodate the district's 130,000 registered Democrats, his face lit up.
"That's one of the things I get excited about," Hardy said. "I want to prove I can be the best representative I can be." He said he plans to spend the next few weeks visiting as many people in his district as he can, hearing out their concerns.
"I'm going to treat people just like my dad used to treat me," Hardy said. "Son, don't come to me with a problem unless you have an answer for how to fix it, because you sure as hell ain't going to like the one I got."
At this point, Hardy's campaign manager, Scott Scheid, jumps in. Hardy isn't "as far right" as one can get, he said.
"He's a realistic, reasonable conservative that's willing to work with others," Scheid said.
To help him work with others, Hardy's hired a Capitol Hill veteran to run his congressional office. Alan Tenille, the chief of staff for retiring California Republican Rep. Buck McKeon, will be Hardy's chief now.
"We share common values and believe the most important function of a congressional office is to provide the best constituent services as possible," Tennille said in a statement to the Sun.
When Congress is in session, Hardy will also share a two-bedroom apartment in Washington with Rep. Mark Amodei, a Northern Nevada Republican who cruised to a second term in November.
As he packed his bags Wednesday to head back home, Hardy said he feels good about the next two years.
"I'm kinda happy about the direction we're headed," he said.