If you want to be a chief of staff, first get a job with Rep. Lynn Westmoreland.
Three of the Georgia Republican’s Washington, D.C., employees will be chiefs of staff to new Members of the House next year. And a fourth has taken a gig as deputy chief of staff for communications to Georgia Gov.-elect Nathan Deal (R).
That’s a track record no other Member can match this year.
“He seems to be some sort of chief-maker,” said Justin Stokes, Westmoreland’s former press secretary who left to manage Rep.-elect Richard Hanna’s campaign. Stokes was recently hired as the New York Republican’s chief of staff.
“He’s having a pretty good year farming people out,” Stokes added. “He also sees it as a great opportunity for all of us to move up in our careers in Capitol Hill and take on new challenges.”
Westmoreland, the National Republican Congressional Committee’s vice chairman for redistricting, said he was asked to let Stokes work on Hanna’s campaign. “Justin wanted to go so we let him go,” he said. “When the time comes that they can better themselves, I want to be there to help them.”
Stokes joins Joe Lillis, Westmoreland’s former legislative director, and Jim Hayes, who helped the Congressman run a House GOP task force on the census, in getting new positions as chiefs of staff.
Westmoreland credited his former staffers with earning their own opportunities, but he did offer that he feels like a “proud parent.”
“I don’t think anybody wants to see a good staffer leave, but you got to remember there’s only so high they can go in your office,” he said. “If you want to go up, you’ve got to switch elevators.”
It seems Hayes and Lillis found adjacent elevators; they’ve taken jobs with Republicans whose districts share a border at the Southeastern corner of Missouri. Hayes will help Rep.-elect Vicky Hartzler represent the 4th district and Lillis will guide Rep.-elect Billy Long, who represent’s the state’s 7th district.
Westmoreland said he hit it off with Long through his NRCC work and recommended Lillis to head his new office.
“I was asked by Billy Long, ‘If Joe is so good, why are you going to get rid of him?’” Westmoreland said. “I said, ‘Billy, that’s the point: I don’t want to get rid of him. But he wants to be a chief of staff, Billy, and I think he’d be a good fit for you.’”
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.