Political Insider

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Once a rabble-rouser, Tom Graves changed his tune to gain influence

WASHINGTON -- The weeks leading up to the October 2013 government shutdown proved to be pivotal ones in the career trajectory of Georgia Congressman Tom Graves.

The Ranger Republican and a band of upstart young conservatives had scored a major political victory after they orchestrated a behind-the-scenes GOP revolt over Obamacare. They managed to push then-Speaker John Boehner and his lieutenants into supporting their gambit of withholding needed government funding in exchange for blocking the implementation of the health law before it could go into effect.

The maneuver was risky, and it ultimately proved to be unsuccessful for the party. It also instantly pinned Graves, one of the plan’s main House architects, with a proverbial scarlet letter: the label of conservative firebrand.

Flash-forward four years and Graves, 47, has come full circle.

Now the senior-most Republican in the Georgia delegation, Graves has substantially revised his methods since the 16-day shutdown. He’s no longer the bomb thrower he was. Instead, he’s taken a tack toward the pragmatic.

Graves’ political rebirth has helped him amass power on Capitol Hill and become one of the most powerful players in the Georgia delegation. But it’s also alienated some of the conservative activists who helped Graves first get elected to Congress in 2010.

Read the whole story on myAJC:  Georgia’s Tom Graves changed his ways, gained influence in Congress

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About the Author

Tamar Hallerman is The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Washington correspondent, covering Congress, federal agencies and other government activities that impact Georgia.