Adam Hodge once was a kid wearing a political T-shirt while riding on a campaign float. So it’s not surprising that today, he’s Majority Whip James Clyburn’s new press secretary.
“I’ve been interested in politics since I was a baby,” Hodge said, only half- jokingly. “My father was chair of the Democratic Party for the Virgin Islands, and my uncle was lieutenant governor for two terms. He re-ran and lost in ’92, and I remember my father saying, ‘He just didn’t get enough votes. But we’ll get up tomorrow, the sun will rise and we’ll have to find another way to help people.’”
His late father’s message stayed with him long after he moved from his hometown in the U.S. Virgin Islands to live in the United States, where he would eventually find jobs in the Majority and Minority Whip’s office, a Senator’s office and several campaign trails.
Hodge’s most recent campaign work began shortly after he started for the South Carolina Democrat this October. The 28-year-old left for Connecticut to help Rep. Jim Himes (D-Conn.) in his race for re-election. Not only did he assist in the campaign’s press operations, but he also provided special attention to an area that his uncle and father would be proud of: getting out the vote.
“On Election Day, the polling locations had run out of ballots. It was probably 45 degrees, but I stood outside my car and took the names and numbers of people who wanted to vote, and called them when the ballots got there,” Hodge said. “I think the assumption is that folks don’t vote or that turnout is low, but to see people who are on the verge of tears because they couldn’t vote reminds you how of important this job is.”
The political seed may have been planted in the staffer from birth, but it really started growing during his first summer internship at the Democratic National Committee in 2002, followed the next summer by an internship with then-Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (Md.). By 2004, he became the phone bank coordinator for the presidential campaign of former Minority Leader Dick Gephardt (D-Mo.).
All the hours of free labor eventually paid off. Hodge cemented his first job as an African-American outreach director for the re-election campaign of Sen. Chris Dodd just three days after his graduation from Wesleyan University. It eventually turned into a full-time gig as staff assistant with the Connecticut Democrat’s office.
But after two years, Hodge began doubting his career choice. In order to test the waters, he left the Hill to serve two stints as a paralegal in New York and San Diego, and he even contemplated law school.
Terri Henderson, 6, center, whose mother is El Salvador, attends a rally with members of Congress at Union Station's Columbus Circle to announce the Restore Opportunity, Strengthen, and Improve the Economy (ROSIE) Act on July 29, 2014. The legislation provides incentives for government contractors to pay a living wage and other benefits that would help low-income workers.