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Hill Climbers: Learning About Texas, but Loving the Braves

Elizabeth Ezzell and her brother, William, may not play tennis like Serena and Venus Williams or argue like Lisa and Bart Simpson, but they all have one thing in common: sibling rivalry.

“My older brother had been in D.C. working for [House Minority Leader John] Boehner, and I visited him often. I thought if my brother could handle Washington, so could I,” Ezzell said with a smile. “I guess you could boil it down to an ‘anything he can do, I can do better’ mentality.”

Ezzell didn’t get her gun like Annie Oakley, but she did get a press gig working for Rep. Kay Granger. The 24-year-old started her position as deputy press secretary with the Texas Republican in June after coming over from the Senate, where she had received a position immediately after her graduation from the University of Georgia.

“I literally got the call right after the ceremony. All the speakers had been talking about how horrible the job market was,” Ezzell said. “I got that phone call and didn’t recognize the 202 area code, but now I know it very well!”

The Atlanta native began working as staff assistant for Sen. Johnny Isakson in January 2009. Ezzell wasn’t entirely new to the office — she had a brief stint as the Georgia Republican’s intern during the summer of 2008. During her time with the Senator, she was able to implement her journalism background when someone in the press office went on maternity leave. Ezzell was quickly appointed interim deputy press secretary.

“I was a journalism major. I never in a million years thought about going into political science,” Ezzell said. “But I came up here and just fell into it. It’s very infectious.”

After getting a taste for the press side of politics, Ezzell was determined to seek a more permanent role involving the media. Although there were no opportunities available in Isakson’s office, she found an opening as deputy press secretary with Granger. Working for a Texas Member was a “crash course on Texas,” but Ezzell was still able to cling to her Southern roots.

“There’s a huge Southern population up here. We’re all very well-connected,” Ezzell said. “All my roommates in college were from Texas, and now I work for a Texas Congresswoman. I can’t escape you guys!”

Her job duties include managing social media, drafting press releases and distributing newsletters. Ezzell has worked closely with Press Secretary Matt Leffingwell, who has initiated her to the House side of Congress. Despite only being two months into the job, she has noticed vast differences between the House and the Senate.

“I had done my internship in the Senate, my work in the Senate. I had only come over to the House side for lunch,” Ezzell said. “They are polar opposites. The House moves on a much more rigid schedule. I like the immediacy of the House. The Senate is set up to slow things down.”

But despite the slower pace of the Senate, Ezzell experienced one of her most exciting Washington moments while working for Isakson. The Atlanta Braves, who were in town to take on the Washington Nationals, were being honored at a Capitol Hill reception in April. After a scheduling cancellation, however, Isakson’s staff members became responsible for driving the baseball players from their hotels.

“Somewhere on [Interstate] 395 it hit me that Bobby Cox was riding shotgun in my car on the way to work,” Ezzell said. “I was pretty nervous because anyone who knows me knows that I’m not the best driver, but it was just the thrill of a lifetime. These were our hometown heroes!”

As for the healthy sibling rivalry between Ezzell and her brother, she maintains that he is very supportive of everything she has accomplished so far in D.C., except for the jealousy that he felt at her opportunity to play chauffeur for the Atlanta Braves.

“I loved having bragging rights with the older brother,” Ezzell said. “But I still made sure I got lots of baseballs signed.”

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