When Rep. Kathy Dahlkemper (D-Pa.) selected her staff for her Washington, D.C., and district offices, she decided to keep it in the family or at least, in the neighborhood.
Nearly all of Dahlkempers newly installed staffers are friends, neighborhood acquaintances, high school classmates and even constituents.
Kate Regan, for example, lived next door to Dahlkemper before the Congresswoman decided to run for office. Regan, a stay-at-home mom of three and graduate of Alfred University, relocated from Rochester, N.Y., to Pennsylvania. She had never been involved in politics before Dahlkemper asked her to become the volunteer coordinator and office manager on her campaign.
So what made her want to jump into the election fray?
Dahlkemper has an integrity that would be welcome in Washington, lets put it that way, Regan said.
When Dahlkemper defeated Republican Rep. Phil English in November, she asked Regan to stay on as district office manager. Though Regan said she hadnt expected the campaign work to turn into a full-time job, she decided to accept.
We had such a blast on the campaign, it was a very attractive offer, she said.
Regan isnt the only one who had a great time despite the demands of a House race.
Simone Baer had been raising funds for several Democratic Members and the Blue Dog political action committee while working with D.C.-based Advanced Network Strategies when Dahlkemper asked her to join the campaign. Baer was impressed with the candidates personality, which she described as down to earth, level and focused, and agreed to help with fundraising.
I just really loved working on the campaign, Baer said. I dont think many candidates are that much fun to work for.
Baer is now the regional representative in Dahlkempers office. Originally from Seattle, she first made her way to the Keystone State to attend the University of Pittsburgh, where she earned her degree in political science. Although Baer also worked in the health care industry, pushing legislation at a state level, shes found herself most focused on the economic crisis since being back in Pennsylvania, traveling around the district and talking with constituents about what can be done to improve the situation for them.