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Hoyer Taps Experience, Diversity

Staff Hires Expected to Help Whip Track Key Constituencies

Dovetailing with an overhaul of the Democratic whip operation, House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (Md.) has padded the shop with new staffers who have longtime leadership experience and far-reaching backgrounds in key party constituencies.

The move is designed to tap various interests within the diverse Democratic Caucus and reinforce Hoyer’s ability to gauge the temperature of Members as he tallies votes and battles the Republican House majority.

Hoyer has structured his whip office into three main departments: floor operations, outreach and communications. He also has added senior policy advisers to boost his legislative staff and assist the new whip team.

“Obviously, the staff is designed to make our whip operation as successful as it can possibly be,” Hoyer said.

The teams will complement each other in an attempt to prepare the whip operation for votes even before legislation hits the House floor. [IMGCAP(1)]

Among the new hires are two former aides to then-Minority Leader Richard Gephardt (Mo.), a former executive director of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and an ex-political director of the Florida Democratic Party. Several of the new hires have ties to key constituency groups such as labor, business and civil rights.

Hoyer said Wednesday he was looking for a balanced staff with connections to all of the various Democratic Caucus groups and organizations off the Hill sharing party interests. That way, he said, the whip team will know the pulse of the Caucus on a wide range of issues and be ready to work Members on upcoming bills.

“This is a diverse group, an experienced group,” Hoyer said.

The new floor team will run the whip operation during votes and coordinate with senior and assistant Whips and their staffs leading up to votes.

The outreach department, meanwhile, will coordinate with groups inside the Caucus as well as outside groups that share Democratic priorities.

The communications team will work on both the big-picture whip strategy and message, as well as the daily interaction with reporters.

Hoyer won the Whip job unopposed in November, succeeding now-Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.). He recently established a new structure for the whip office, containing two new layers of personnel with specific vote-gathering duties.

The veteran Maryland lawmaker kept in place his longtime aide Cory Alexander as his chief of staff; Scott Nance as his appropriations director; and Brian Romick, a former House Administration staffer who will become a floor assistant. Hoyer also kept Communications Director Dave Ransom and Press Secretary Stacey Farnen.

The new floor team is spearheaded by Rob Cogorno, who serves as floor director. Cogorno served as Gephardt’s chief appropriations policy adviser and research director for eight years and has also worked for Reps. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) and Peter Visclosky (D-Ind.).

Joining Cogorno as a floor assistant is Alejandro Perez, a former executive director of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.

The outreach arm will be led by Marta David as senior adviser for outreach. David previously worked for Gephardt as a senior policy adviser and for the AFL-CIO.

As his deputy director of outreach, Hoyer named Bandele McQueen, who has extensive campaign experience and most recently worked as political director for the Florida Democratic Party.

As for policy, Hoyer hired as a senior policy adviser Scott DeFife, a Hill veteran with a strong background on budget and tax policy who most recently worked for Rep. Bart Gordon (D-Tenn.). He also brought on as a senior policy adviser Gina Mahony, who has worked for two founding chairmen of the New Democrat Coalition.

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