Democratic operatives close to Sen. Charles Schumer (right) say the calm demeanor of his chief of staff, Mike Lynch, is a perfect match for the Senators trademark intensity.
Imagine Sen. Charles Schumer, only serene and media-averse, and Mike Lynch, the New York Democrat’s chief of staff, comes into view.
As the Democratic Conference vice chairman has climbed the Senate ladder of influence and leadership, so, too, has Lynch. The Virginia native, 44, is considered Schumer’s most trusted adviser, ranking only below the Senator’s wife in clout. But he has gone largely unnoticed outside the powerful circle he inhabits, and that’s partly because he seems to have wanted it that way.
Still, he is described as a respected aide who can — and does — tell his boss “no” when he believes it necessary. Democratic operatives close to Schumer say Lynch’s calm demeanor is a perfect match for the Senator’s trademark intensity.
“Their personalities work well together. They’re just a very good fit; they balance each other,” said Carol Kellerman, who was Schumer’s best friend in college and his first chief of staff when he entered the House in 1981.
Lynch, a campaign trail and Capitol Hill veteran, counsels Schumer on matters ranging from parochial New York issues to Congressional legislation of national import and broad political and electoral strategy. The latter is the arena viewed as the Senator’s calling card during his rise to become the third-ranking Senate Democratic leader. Lynch also is intimately involved in the day-to-day running of the Schumer-led Democratic Policy and Communications Center, the Senate majority’s chief political research and messaging operation.
This includes working with Schumer and senior DPCC staff on strategic planning and message development and helping to ensure coordination with Senate Democratic legislative efforts. Lynch acts as a bridge between the DPCC and Members’ offices, communicating to his fellow chiefs of staff and making sure their concerns are heard and addressed on the inside. If there’s a problem, Lynch is considered the fixer.
Indeed, one source said Lynch became the go-to guy during last year’s government shutdown fights, giving Senate offices logistical advice on how they should operate when the government isn’t running.
Current and former Schumer aides were highly complimentary of Lynch. They said Lynch is effective as a campaign strategist and as legislative policy adviser — and that he is a competent manager of Schumer’s diverse Senate staff. In addition to running the DPCC, Schumer chairs the Rules and Administration Committee and sits on powerful panels such as Finance, Judiciary and Banking. Democratic chiefs and other operatives who deal with Lynch regularly say he deserves the accolades for keeping Schumer’s ship upright.
“When there’s a difficult issue, he gets involved and rolls up his sleeves. Anytime it is difficult and political, Mike is there and it seems to go well,” said Jeffrey Forbes, a lobbyist who served as Sen. Max Baucus’ (D-Mont.) chief of staff from 1999 to 2002 and as his staff director on the Finance Committee in 2003. “He has great instincts and an amazing manner.”
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