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Hill Climbers: Campaign Junkie Joins Portman’s Press Shop

Tom Williams/Roll Call
Jeff Sadosky has left the campaign trail and settled in Washington, D.C., as freshman Sen. Rob Portman’s communications director.

Jeff Sadosky has always loved being on the ground while he was campaigning and working in politics. And his new job as communications director for freshman Sen. Rob Portman is no exception; the office is even temporarily located on the basement floor of the Russell Senate Office Building.

“It makes winning all the more worthwhile,” Sadosky said with a laugh. “But with 25 people in three small rooms, you get to know your co-workers very well, very quickly.”

Before the other staffers started with the Ohio Republican in January, the office consisted solely of Sadosky and one other staff member. The 33-year-old, who worked on the Senator’s campaign, also served as Portman’s transition director from Election Day to the swearing-in ceremony.

This isn’t the California native’s first political press gig. He previously worked for Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison as communications director.

One of his most memorable moments working for the Texas Republican was during the Fort Hood shootings in November 2009. Hutchison’s press team, Sadosky included, helped break news about the events and managed to get the last flight out of D.C. to visit the military base that same evening.

“It was a day I’ll never forget,” Sadosky said. “We went to the scene and the ramp ceremony, and it was heartbreaking to see the families of those murdered. But at the same time, it was a little heartwarming to see the honor and respect given to those who had been killed.”

Before he worked for Hutchison, Sadosky worked as director of regional communications for Sen. John McCain’s presidential campaign. His primary responsibility was to coordinate the Arizona Republican’s national message while still bringing unique points to the 11 regions he was responsible for reaching.

Sadosky brought a lot of experience to the table, as he was previously a traveling press secretary for former Sen. Fred Thompson. The Tennessee Republican made a bid for the 2008 presidential primaries and campaigned in various states.

“My favorite part about working for Fred was finding random small diners in every small town,” Sadosky said. “We found a lot of different good eats.”

His first campaign stint was working for President George W. Bush’s re-election campaign in 2004. Sadosky, who worked for a media consulting firm at the time, interned for the campaign from 5:30 to 8:30 every morning before he went to his full-time job.

After graduating from James Madison University in 2000 with a degree in international affairs, Sadosky said, he wasn’t sure what he wanted to do for a living. He took the job with the media firm, where his clients were mostly campaigns and political parties.

It was there that Sadosky realized he wanted to work on the campaign side of politics. So he took the graveyard intern shifts with the Bush campaign for several months until he was hired permanently as a communications coordinator for the Southwest region.

When the campaign ended, Sadosky’s communications experience landed him a job as deputy press secretary with then-Sen. Mike DeWine (R-Ohio). All his experience and long hours paid off as he was promoted to press secretary several months later.

But by 2006, Sadosky was itching to get back on the campaign trail. He moved to Florida to work as communications director for the state’s Republican Party, and he traveled to different parts of the country doing communications outreach.

“Every day was something different,” he said. “I spent more time in Iowa and New Hampshire than I ever would have imagined. I know the back roads of South Carolina better than I ever thought I would.”

Since starting with Portman, Sadosky has relied on his past experience to shape his new role. Even though they’ve only been working for several weeks, the team has managed to get out the lawmaker’s first piece of legislation, a comprehensive jobs bill.

Now that Sadosky is settled back on Capitol Hill, he plans to focus on his job with Portman and to bring elements of the campaign platform into the Senator’s daily routine. Sadosky said he sees himself staying planted in the Senate, at least for a while.

“And besides, I think my wife would kill me if I hopped on another campaign trail,” he said.

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