Van Hollen Staffs Up for New Leadership Post

Posted January 5, 2009 at 9:24am

Rep. Chris Van Hollen (Md.) is raiding his ranks at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee to staff his new office as assistant to Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).

As part of his new portfolio in House leadership, Van Hollen will be mentoring new Democratic lawmakers, and he has tapped CR Wooters, director of incumbent retention at the DCCC last cycle, to head up those “Member services” efforts. Doug Thornell, who just finished a turn as the DCCC’s national press secretary, is joining the assistant’s office as communications director. Thornell, a Maryland native, also will serve as a senior adviser in Van Hollen’s personal office.

Van Hollen is rounding out his new leadership operation by hiring Aaron Schmidt, most recently legislative director for Rep. Zack Space (D-Ohio), as legislative director; Julie Merz, who managed Kansas Democrat Jim Slattery’s unsuccessful bid for the Senate in 2008, as deputy director of Member services; and Michelle Widman, deputy national finance director in Van Hollen’s campaign office, as staff assistant.