When most people think of Indiana, pork tenderloin sandwiches and former Vice President Dan Quayle aren’t necessarily the first things that come to mind.
But for Trevor Foughty, a native of the Hoosier state, these are some of the home-state treasures that he will remember as he starts his new gig with freshman Rep. Todd Young.
“The first politician I remember growing up is Dan Quayle, because he’s from Huntington, which is right next door to where I grew up,” Foughty said. “So at five years old, I kind of just assumed my parents knew him, and I loved seeing him in the news because I was thinking ‘Oh hey, he lives next door!’”
The 27-year-old started as communications director for the Indiana Republican this January and is still working on the basics: launching social media, getting the Congressional website up and running and moving into a new office.
But Foughty jokes that another initiative he might have to undertake is petitioning the cafeteria in the Longworth House Office Building to add his beloved pork tenderloin sandwiches to the menu in an effort to represent his home state.
“For the longest time, I didn’t realize they were just an Indiana thing,” he said. “I’ve been telling reporters that I’m going to try and get a pork tenderloin sandwich shipped on dry ice for the next couple weeks.”
It’s understandable that Foughty holds such close ties to the state. Not only did he grow up there and graduate from Bethel College in 2005, but he also spent an extensive amount of time working for various Indiana campaigns and the state’s Republican party.
His first foray into politics — after he dismissed childhood dreams of becoming a political cartoonist — came during his senior year of college, when a faculty member asked Foughty to help with the media on his campaign for county council. He practically worked full-time on the campaign while he earned a bachelor’s degree in English and philosophy.
The hard work paid off. His first job came in 2006 as field director for the Republican National Committee victory program for then-Rep. Chris Chocola (R-Ind.). The following year, he was manager for John McGoff’s campaign for Congress and then Tony Bennett’s campaign for Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction.
After Bennett was elected, he hired Foughty to work in the state Department of Education as an assistant communications director. A year later, Foughty moved to the Indiana Republican Party as a communications director.
But perhaps his most inspiring experience came from a stint as a communications consultant for Gov. Mitch Daniels’ state-based political action committee in 2010.
“Like a lot of people who grew up in Indiana, you assume you’re going to move away when you get older. But Mitch Daniels’ first campaign made me really proud to live in Indiana,” he said. “For a while, I thought I would stay here and work for him. He’s done a lot of great things for the state. So it wasn’t an easy decision to move here, but I am thrilled to work for Todd Young.”
The new staffer already has numerous press contacts in D.C. from his days with the state GOP, so now it’s just a matter of “putting reporters’ names with faces.”
Other things he is looking forward to in Washington are baseball season (“I might have to call in sick to work when the Cubs are in town”), and not owning a car for the first time in his adult life. But even though everything has been running smoothly thus far, he’s prepared for the possible bumps ahead.
“So far, it’s been what I expected,” he said. “But as we get into the committee process and floor votes and everything else, I think there’s going to be a little bit of culture shock that comes. And I’m ready for it.”
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Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., takes a selfie with his cut-out head during the Hoops for Youth 16th annual charity basketball game held at George Washington University's Smith Center, September 8, 2014. The members of Congress team beat the lobbyist team 46-40. Buy photo here.