Merkley hires chief-of-staff, names other key posts

The Oregonian is reporting that Senator-elect Jeff Merkley has hired a chief of staff. Michael Zamore is the outgoing policy director for the DSCC, and was previously a senior policy advisor to Congressman Patrick Kennedy (D-RI).

Zamore created the House 21st Century Health Care Caucus and worked closely with Kennedy to build bipartisan majorities in support of legislation to improve health insurance coverage for mental health. ...

Zamore most recently served as policy director for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. The DSCC provide Merkley with crucial financial support as well as guidance on policy and tactics during his run against incumbent Sen. Gordon Smith.

As DSCC policy director, Zamore would have [had] close contact with Merkley as well as other Democratic candidates running for Senate.

In addition, his communications director will be Julie Edwards - who served as the deputy communications director on the campaign.

Like Zamore, Edwards has extensive experience on Capitol Hill having worked for New York Rep. Nita Lowey and for Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska. Both Lowey and Nelson are Democrats.

Previously, Merkley had announced that campaign manager Jon Isaacs will serve as his state director. Today, he announced that Maribeth Healey will be his deputy state director.

Maribeth Healey was named deputy state director, making her one of Merkley's principal representatives to Oregon residents while he is in Washington. As a senior leader of the Oregon operation, Healey will be responsible for running Merkley's state offices and helping coordinate state and local issues with a federal response. ...

Healey is currently the Executive Director of Oregonians for Health Security and is the 2008 recipient of the Families USA Consumer Health Advocate of the Year Award. In 2006 she was appointed to the Oregon Senate Commission on Health Care Access and Affordability.

Also serving in key state-side roles are Claire Griffin and Jessica Adamson.

A second crucial state job will go to Claire Griffin, who has been named director of constituent services. In this role, she will be the primary contact when Oregon residents need help with Social Security or health care or any other issue involving the federal government.

Griffin knows both the state and Merkley, having worked for Merkley as a legislative aide in Salem for eight years. The last two years she worked as his special assistant in the Speaker's office.

Merkley also announced that Jessica Adamson will serve as his principal liaison with Oregon businesses. Adamson currently works for the Associated General Contractors Oregon-Columbia Chapter. Before joining AGC, she served as chief of staff to state Rep. Lynn Lundquist, R-Powell Butte and also worked as a legislative assistant to state Sen. Jeannette Hamby, R-Hillsboro.

Ultimately, the Merkley operation will grow to as many as 40 or 50 people between the staff on Capitol Hill and staff in field offices throughout Oregon.

  • Liz Smith Currie (unverified)

    Congratulations Maribeth and everyone on the new team! Now go fix all of our problems :)

  • Garrett D. (unverified)

    Congratulations, Maribeth!

  • same ol' (unverified)

    Has Merkley's chief of staff ever even been to Oregon?

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    I absolutely hate it when OregonLive messes up and loses stories. It is so annoying. The page is all blank in the middle. Even their own site links to that page, but it isn't showing anything.

  • MaryBeth (unverified)

    Real East Coast bias. Love the Maribeth hire (and not just because of her wonderful name) but having both the chief of staff and press person coming from inside the beltway/east coast/no connection to Oregon types is a concern.

    Smith learned this during his first term before he corrected it and hired an Oregonian as his chief of staff. This, along with the whole Lieberman flap and the "send money to Harry" business, is not a very encouraging start. Looking like a national D leadership robot already. So much for independent, bipartisan efforts to address our nation's problems.

    Who knows, maybe Rahm Emmanuel will be available soon to help out as well.

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    Yes, Maribeth! Great choice Senator Merkley!

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    The DC chief of staff and the DC press person have to deal with other DC staffers and the DC press corps.

    He'll hire an Oregon person to handle Oregon media in the state office. But it's foolish to NOT have someone with DC connections managing the DC operation.

    Don't forget who is the boss after all.

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    Marybeth: I feel compelled to set the record straight about Merkley's Communications Director, Julie Edwards. I worked for the Merkley Campaign as his netroots director during the general election and worked directly with Julie Edwards. Julie Edwards grew up in Salem, Oregon and her whole family lives in Portland, Oregon. So, it should be noted that she not only has Oregon roots but is very connected to the state of Oregon.

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    Thanks, Sarah. I was just about to jump all over that.

    Julie is most definitely an Oregonian through and through.

    I'm also always amused when people whine about the staff choices. Sure, they're important - but the complaints often sound as if the principal is some kind of puppet or wind-up doll... just pointed in whatever direction the staff send 'em.

    Trust me, folks. Jeff Merkley has very strong opinions of his own. His staff provide guidance and support, but it's Jeff Merkley who sets the strategy and direction... most especially on policy.

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    p.s. Full disclosure: My firm built Jeff Merkley's campaign website, but I speak only for myself.

  • Cathy Kaufmann (unverified)

    Yay Maribeth!

  • Joanne Rigutto (unverified)

    My questions -

    Who is his person to deal with agriculture issues and what is their email addy/other contact info?

    I have some information to send them.

    Thanks Joanne Rigutto

  • anon (unverified)

    Jessica Adamson is a masterful hire by Merkley.

  • BOHICA (unverified)

    Hopefully his local offices won't be in some locked down DFH proof building like Gordo's and Wyden's.

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    What's "DFH"?

    I don't have any idea, but I'm willing to bet that at least the main downtown office will be secured. It's unfortunate, but U.S. Senators get death threats all the time.

  • jeanette (unverified)

    Julie Edward's sister is an attorney for Stoel Reeves (sp) in Porland, her sister Lucy works for State of Oregon and her dad is a defending attorney in Salem. Can't get much more Oregon than that.

  • BOHICA (unverified)

    DHF = Dirty F**king Hippie (TM Atrios)

    At least Wyden's office is in a public building even if you have to take off your shoes. I need to get an orange jump suit with "Political Prisoner in Training" stenciled on the back.

  • MaryBeth (unverified)

    My mistake on Julie Edwards. Sorry, my bad.

    From paul g - "don't forget who is the boss"

    OK, I'll bite. Chuck Schumer or Harry Reid?

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    Often times you'll find that the offices of U.S. Senators and U.S. Representatives are in government buildings where they can get a very good rate on the office - or even get it free. These buildings often have other offices in them that need heavy security, which means you also have to go through security to get to the Member of Congress' office.

    When I worked for U.S. Congressman Lampson, our office was in a building that was a post office on the bottom floor and other government offices in the floors above. The top floors were federal courts. We shared our floor with the break room, a large storage room of government owned office furniture, and DEA storage rooms. Those DEA rooms were filled with evidence while awaiting trial.

    You had to go through security before you could access the elevators. The stairs could only be accessed via a key (going up from the bottom floor). You had to go through a metal detector and all bags through an x-ray machine. Cell phones, PDAs, pagers, etc. (anything that could be called) were not allowed upstairs.

    That amount of security may have seemed ridiculous, but there were many threats of death and violence to the offices upstairs. I personally experienced one of these when a man came into our office and made a threat against the city council, county commission, Congressman, and the President. At that point, the U.S. Marshals brought me a panic button (the previous Congressman's staff had disconnected it upon his loss and their leaving the office, along with other damage). Thankfully, I never had to a need for the button during my remaining time in the office.

    So just remember, this security isn't always just about the Senator's/Representative's office, but also about the other offices in the building.

    The important part is this - can you get access to your Congressman or Senator? Can you make an appointment to come to his office? Can you drop by and leave a letter? My experience has been yes with Wyden, Blumenauer, Hooley, and Wu. My experience has been an unqualified no for Smith.

    I've never been able to make an appointment with a staff member in Smith's office. I've been told I will not be allowed to come to the office to drop off printed materials, letters, etc. - we were told to mail them. After having the office on multiple occasions deny receiving items, we send all important items as certified and signature required. I can't even get them to take down basic information when I call in and give my position on an issue. In Lampson's office, it was standard practice to take down name, phone number, home address, and comments. I even designed an easy-to-use form for doing this. All comments from constituents were recorded in the CRM and then forwarded to staff in DC (local staff worked on constituent issues, DC staff worked on issues regarding bills, those on the "issues," etc.). Any comments from those not in the district were forwarded to their member of Congress. Smith's office barely lets you get out a comment before they hang up on you.

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    MaryBeth, I mean Jeff of course.

    Your Oregon-centrism is showing. First you (erroneously) criticize Jeff for hiring "east coast types" without Oregon connections.

    Then you criticize him for a lack of an "independent, bipartisan" approach to our nation's problems (my emphasis). (Note, did Jeff ever sell himself as a bipartisan problem solver? I thought his campaign ran pretty a pretty consistently liberal Democratic message.)

    What do you want? An Oregon senator from a very blue state who works on OREGON'S problems?

    Or a bipartisan independent Senator who tries to solve our NATION'S problems.

  • John F. Bradach, Sr. (unverified)

    Jeff has a strong pick in Jessica Adamson, as liason to Oregon Business. I have worked with Jessica over the last several years, in her post at the Oregon-Columbia Associated General Contractors. She is bright, prepared, motivated, responsive, effective and cheerful. This is a good spot for her continuing service to Oregon.

  • Katherine Pfeiffer (unverified)

    Maribeth is a fantastic hire! Good for her, good for senator elect Merkley, & good for Oregon!

  • Pat Ross (unverified)

    I would like to know which staff member that Senator Merkley will assign to the LNG Terminals and pipelines discoourse that Governor Kulongoski and Senator Whyden are now so involved. Also, has Representative Kurt Schrader made any appointments and who would our contact be for this subject? With influence peddling to Oregon and Washington legislators exceeding $200,000 from a local gas company, and who knows how much to federal legislators, citizens need equal access to those we voted for.

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