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Hill Climbers: Staffers Adjust to D.C. Together

Tom Williams/Roll Call
Communications aide Leanne Goodman and Legislative Correspondent Oscar Urteaga recently began working in the office of Rep. Buck McKeon.

The two new hires in the office of Rep. Buck McKeon are both young staffers from California who moved to Washington, D.C., for gigs with the California Republican.

Communications aide Leanne Goodman and Legislative Correspondent Oscar Urteaga have been working together on mailings and written communications in the office since they started last month.

“It was nice because we both adjusted to the culture of D.C. together,” said Goodman, who started first.

“And she was happy that she could say, ‘Hey, I’m not the new person anymore!’” Urteaga added.

Although both staffers have just moved here, this isn’t Goodman’s first gig on Capitol Hill. The 23-year-old interned for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee in the summer of 2009. She got to shadow the organization and help coordinate speaking engagements with Members.

During her time at the University of Washington, where she earned a degree in political science and belonged to College Republicans, Goodman interned for the Washington State Republican Party. She said it inspired her to pursue a career in politics after graduation in 2010.

In her first job, she was field director for the campaign of Rep. Dave Reichert (R-Wash.). From June to November 2010, Goodman managed the electronic campaign and handled all online communications for the district, which is where she got most of her new media training.

Since arriving at her new post, where she is also responsible for new media, Goodman has been working hard to amp up the Congressman’s social media use. She even increased his Twitter followers by 1,000 people in just one week. Goodman has also been striving to make McKeon’s website a contender for the Golden Mouse Awards, a competition for the top Congressional websites.

“I’ve always wanted to come here,” she said. “Especially now that Republicans are in the majority.”

Urteaga has also always wanted to work in politics, but first he took a yearlong break to explore his family’s roots. After the 25-year-old graduated from San Diego State University in 2007, he moved to his father’s homeland of Peru to experience the culture, learn the language and get to know family members who still live there.

Although he said it was one of the best experiences of his life, Urteaga returned to California in 2008 and was ready to start his career. His first two gigs were working on the campaigns of April Boling (R) for San Diego City Council and John McCann (R) for California State Assembly.

In January 2009, he began working for Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher. After his yearlong stint with the California Republican, Urteaga hit the campaign trail as field representative for the California gubernatorial campaign of Steve Poizner (R). 

Although Poizner lost the election, Urteaga got a taste of success in his next gig, where he worked on the “No on Proposition 24 Initiative.” The tax initiative was defeated on the statewide ballot.

Urteaga cherished his work on campaigns in California, but ultimately he knew that D.C. was where he wanted to be.

“If someone wants to be an actor, you got to go to LA,” he said. “Being in the political scene, you got to go to the Capitol. This is the best place to be.”

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