Rep. Heath Shuler (N.C.) is moving to expand his national profile by beefing up the staff of his leadership political action committee and helping Democrats try to win back the House majority in 2012.
The Blue Dog leader hired Andrew Whalen, a former close aide, to serve as executive director of Shuler’s 3rd and Long PAC. In that capacity, Whalen will oversee the PAC’s fundraising and Shuler’s candidate recruitment, communications and political travel.
It’s the latest in a series of moves by Shuler to increase his influence on the party both inside and outside the Capitol. Shuler challenged Speaker Nancy Pelosi last month for Minority Leader, losing 150-43.
Shuler knew he would not win, but the effort got him plenty of publicity. Just elected to a third term, Shuler was also recently named one of three Blue Dog co-chairmen for the 112th Congress.
“He wants to be moving around the country more, working to recruit candidates to win back seats that we lost,” Whalen told Roll Call. “He is uniquely positioned to be the voice of the national Democratic Party in purple and red districts, where others really can’t go.”
Whalen served as executive director of the North Carolina Democratic Party during the 2010 cycle. He previously served as communications director in Shuler’s Congressional office, as well as helping run his 2006 and 2008 campaigns.
“Andrew has been one of my most trusted advisers since I entered politics, and I am thrilled to be able to welcome him back to my staff,” Shuler said in a statement. “He understands how to communicate and win in moderate and conservative Congressional districts and will be an essential part of the team that helps us retake the majority in the U.S. House of Representatives.”