LEWISTON — Democrat Jared Golden is “somewhat impatient” to take office as Maine’s next 2nd District congressman.

Though he already has “a little basement apartment in some little house” that’s about a 15 minute walk from his new office on Capitol Hill, Golden isn’t sure he’ll be able to take the oath of office with the other 434 newcomers Jan. 3.

Golden said that opening day of a new congressional term is “a historic moment” and “it would be nice to be seated with my colleagues” that he’s just beginning to get to know.

It isn’t clear that a recount of the nearly 290,000 ballots cast in 375 towns last month will be completed by Secretary of State Matt Dunlap’s staff in Augusta in time for that to happen.

The man Golden defeated, two-term Republican Bruce Poliquin, called for a recount and is pursuing a federal court challenge to Maine’s ranked-choice voting system that he hopes will lead to a reversal of the narrow victory by Golden or perhaps a new election.

Golden said Sunday that he doesn’t consider either GOP effort a major worry. He said he’s confident he’ll be taking office soon, but maybe not fast enough to join the rest of the incoming House on the first day of the session.

While he waits, Golden is hustling to get ready. He is hiring staff and figuring out where to place district offices that he promised will be open to the public rather than behind locked doors as Poliquin has done.

Golden, a 36-year-old U.S. Marine Corps veteran, said he plans to keep an office on Lisbon Street in Lewiston and to have one in Bangor that’s fully accessible to people with disabilities, something Poliquin’s office there is not.

He is also eyeing one in either Caribou or Presque Isle, he said. He may have a fourth office as well somewhere in western Maine or along the coast.

Golden said his new office in the Longworth building beside the Capitol is not quite ready.

“I don’t have the keys or access to it,” the Democrat said.

He’s glad that five of the nine incoming Democrats aligned with U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton, D-Mass., managed to get offices on the same floor of the same building. Two others are just one floor above, Golden said.

Having so many of the veterans elected last month nearby, he said, ought to provide “a good dynamic” for all of them as they learn the ins and outs of the House. Already, Golden said, they’re talking about possible bills  they could all get behind.

Golden said he’s put in requests for possible committee assignments that probably won’t be decided for at least a couple of weeks.

Among the panels he asked the leadership to consider him for are the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee, the Armed Services Committee, the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and the Education and the Workforce Committee.

Golden said Ways and Means attracted him because it oversees Social Security and Medicare, which he has vowed to protect, and a perch there would give him the chance to push for increases in monthly benefits.

The Education panel, Golden said, is “a great position” to target the workforce issues that face Maine with its aging population and slow growth.

On Armed Services, he said, he would have some leverage to look out for the interests of Bath Iron Works, the shipbuilding company that employs hundreds in his district.

He said the Transportation panel would allow him to try to bring more federal cash to Maine to help with a range of infrastructure issues facing the state.

Golden said he anticipates that he will get two committee assignments, but there are no guarantees that either of them will be on a panel he asked for. There are a lot of factors that go into choosing members, he said, including regional considerations to make sure there’s a diverse group that doesn’t include too many from New England on any one committee.

Golden, who served in the state House for two terms before winning the congressional race this  year, said he has devoted considerable time to hiring decisions. He said he’s already picked a district director in Maine — though he wouldn’t provide a name yet — and is about to choose his chief of staff.

“They’re really going to be the senior staff,” Golden said, and play an important role in making sure he’s successful in representing his constituents. Ultimately, he will likely hire about 16 full-time staffers and a few part-timers.

“We’re going to put a strong emphasis on the state staff,” Golden said.

He said he’s not in a hurry to fill every slot, however, because he’s gotten advice from many that it’s better to take his time and make sure he brings the right people on board.

One of the issues that bothers Golden most about the delay in certifying his victory at the polls, he said, is that it has made it hard to have a smooth transition between his incoming staff and Poliquin’s existing one.

Golden said he would like to “have an orderly transition” where casework could be handed off  seamlessly and problems that Poliquin’s staff are dealing with would be addressed.

Instead, he said, he’s had no conversations with Poliquin.

Golden said he has talked with both of Maine’s senators and with U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree, the 1st District Democrat who is the state’s only other member of the House. He said he hopes that if Poliquin’s casework isn’t handed over to his staff that it will be given to the offices of one of the other three so that nobody is simply dropped.

“It would be unfortunate” if anyone gets lost in the shuffle, Golden said.

Golden said he has met quite a few of his new colleagues, but hasn’t had a chance to get to know many of them yet.

One of the newcomers Golden has talked with is U.S. Rep.-elect Ilhan Omar, a 37-year-old Minnesota Democrat who is the first Somali-American to serve in Congress.

Golden said she’s heard of Lewiston and its large Somali population and may even come visit sometime. He said he’s interested in learning more about the economic opportunities in her district.

Golden said he hasn’t had a chance to meet many Republicans yet, but there was an evening get-together of the eight Democrats and eight GOP members backed by With Honor, a group that sought to bring more veterans into Congress. He said that was a nice opportunity to meet some newcomers with similar backgrounds.

One of the headaches he has now, Golden said, is that because he’s not in office yet, he doesn’t have access to congressional phones and the House email system. That makes it hard for people to reach him, he said.

He said he is determined to be responsive but it’s tough without the backbone systems.

“Right now, it’s a bit of a holding pattern,” Golden said, adding that he hopes people will understand and give him a little time.

“Come January, we’ll be fully accessible,” Golden said.

It appears likely that the secretary of state will certify Golden’s win no later than early January. So far, the recount is about a fifth of the way done and results have changed little. There is no sign that the recount will flip the results.

Golden said that while he’s content to wait, there are a couple of reasons it may hurt Maine if he can’t take office Jan. 3.

One problem is that he won’t be able to participate in the debate on key issues that are taken up quickly, he said.

Another is that his seniority would be impacted. If he starts even one day later than his colleagues, Golden would have less seniority than every other newly elected member, something that matters little now but if voters re-elect him, someday the diminished seniority might cost him a subcommittee chair or other leadership post, making it a bit harder to help his district.

Golden said that when he walks around at the Capitol, he finds it humbling to realize that he “just one of many new faces” in a legislative body almost three times the size of Maine’s House.

Sometimes, he said, he’ll be in a Democratic caucus and look around at colleagues who have become legends.

There are members “who have made history,” Golden said. “There’s some big names in there.”

[email protected]

U.S. Rep.-elect Jared Golden (file photo)