Sept. 23, 2014 SIGN IN | REGISTER

The ‘Texanization’ of Rob Jesmer

Tom Williams/Roll Call
When NRSC Executive Director Rob Jesmer (above) learned that Scott Brown had a chance to win, he kept quiet about it.

The second of four profiles of Congressional campaign committee executive directors.

It’s a wonder how a man as loud as Rob Jesmer has been so successful by keeping quiet.

Jesmer, the smooth and fast-talking executive director of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, apparently knows when to shut his mouth.

What started out as a horrific election cycle for Senate Republicans has now turned very promising. Last year, Senate Republicans thought they would be lucky if they lost only two seats in 2010. Now there’s murmuring among some GOP operatives, contrary to the NRSC’s cautious warning, that they could even take back the majority.

“For the first six months of last year, nobody gave us any chance,” Jesmer said in an interview last week in his spacious corner office with views of Senate office buildings. “I just think that we plugged along, we were recruiting good candidates, we were raising money — all of that stuff that was very hard to do back then, back when the conventional wisdom was that we were going to lose seats.”

Fueling Republicans’ enthusiasm is the fact that they just won a seat in Massachusetts — and took away the Democrats’ supermajority. But even before the political upset of the decade, colleagues and associates of Jesmer praised his political acumen, candor and pragmatic approach to his work.

A slightly crumpled paper sign mockingly hangs on the left of the doorway of Jesmer’s office. The sign, which was once posted at Sonoma Restaurant and Wine Bar, directs guests upstairs for a Martha Coakley (D) for Senate fundraiser — an event that she was criticized for holding in Washington, D.C., one week before she lost the Massachusetts special election to now-Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.).

When the NRSC received polling in mid-December from the Bay State that showed Brown had an outside chance of winning, Jesmer and the rest of the staff kept mum.

“It was part of our strategy, frankly,” NRSC Chairman John Cornyn (Texas) said. “If we telegraphed what we were doing, we would be less likely to win. And of course that is our goal, to win. It wasn’t as if we were being humble or modest. We wanted to win.”

Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Ala.), a former Jesmer boss, said the ability to keep quiet is part of his effectiveness.

“Rob lives by the motto, ‘Keep expectations lower so you can always achieve them,’” Rogers said. “He does not raise expectations until he knows he can achieve them.”

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