Public service runs through Jordan Davis’ family’s veins.
The new chief of staff for Rep. Rick Berg (R-N.D.) is the son of a Southern Baptist pastor and the grandson of two teachers, and he has extended family in the military.
“This is my way to serve,” Davis said of his career on Capitol Hill.
Davis’ passion for politics began while he was a student at the University of Central Florida during the contentious 2000 presidential election.
“I became interested in the process and switched my major to political science and got involved more,” Davis said.
Although he caught the political bug during college, upon graduating in 2003, he decided to put off a career on the Hill in order to earn money for himself and his new wife, taking a job with State Farm insurance company.
Two years later, however, he could no longer put off his desire for a career in politics, and after praying about the decision with his wife, the two moved to Washington, D.C., in the hope that Davis could find a job in Congress.
“I started at the bottom,” Davis said. “I pursued an internship to get my foot in the door, and the rest was working my way up from there.”
Davis started his Hill career in 2005 with then-Rep. Thelma Drake (R-Va.), working as an unpaid intern in her office for just a few weeks before she hired him as a staff assistant. He stayed in Drake’s office for three years, moving through the ranks and finally landing a job as a senior legislative assistant.
When Drake lost her seat in the Democratic wave of 2008, Davis found himself without a job.
“It was a rough year for finding a job as a Republican, so I went for a few months without anything,” Davis said.
Ultimately, he used the experience of working in a volatile swing district to earn a job at the National Republican Congressional Committee as a legislative director, bridging his legislative knowledge with his background of working for a Member who had to constantly campaign.
For nearly three years, Davis worked at the NRCC, helping instruct the new wave of Republican Members of Congress on the legislative process.
“A lot of the people that were running in 2010 were small-business owners or state legislators, but they’d never had any federal experience,” Davis said. “I helped them understand that process.”
During his stint at the NRCC, Davis formed a bond with Berg, who won his House seat in the GOP wave of 2010, and in 2011 Davis agreed to take a job as legislative director in Berg’s office to help beef up the freshman Member’s legislative team. Berg is now running for the Senate.
“I really like Rick and respect him a lot and believe in him and what he’s doing, and he made an offer I couldn’t refuse,” Davis said.
While Davis concedes that a lot of his success had to do with “a real element of luck,” he said that others working in Congress who are seeking to reach the chief of staff level should take advantage of the educational opportunities the Hill offers to advance up the hierarchy.
“Personally, my faith was really important to me, and prayer opened many doors for me,” Davis said. “I’ve tried to make the most of the opportunities I’ve been given and feel blessed to have moved as quickly as I have.”
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