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For Ian Sams, Political Experience 'Snowballed' Into a Hill Career | Hill Climber

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call
Sams credits a combination of hard work, luck and good people with his career path, which has taken him from a Hill intern to his latest spot at the DNC.

In two years, Ian Sams worked his way from an entry-level spot with Sen. Thomas R. Carper, D-Del., to Carper’s press secretary, and, most recently, a regional press secretary with the Democratic National Committee.

The 2011 University of Alabama graduate now represents the DNC for the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic, as well as Kentucky, West Virginia and Virginia, which currently means working on the Old Dominion’s hotly contested gubernatorial race.

“It’s a busy time,” the 24-year-old said.

Sams said he got his start in politics in high school, when he campaigned for Democrats in conservative eastern Tennessee. At the University of Alabama, he took part in student government and was a member of the College Democrats.

His interest in politics peaked when, in 2010, he interned with the communications department of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. Sams said he left the District not only with hands-on experience but also with the desire to return to Capitol Hill.

“I had the bug,” he said, shrugging.

Soon after graduating in 2011, he interviewed with Carper’s office, and a week later, he had a job.

“It snowballed super quickly,” he said, adding that he “lucked out” with the offer.

The snowball continued to roll, and in February Sams was named Carper’s press secretary. And although he’s leaving Carper’s office, his jurisdiction with the DNC includes Delaware, and he had fond words for his former boss.

“He’s a great guy,” Sams said of Carper. “I think we need more guys like him in Congress.”

In a moment of reflection about his career path, Sams boiled down his success to three main points: luck, good people and working hard.

“The big part for me was having bosses who were willing to take chances on me,” he said.

And once he’d gotten the job and had the support of his employers, Sams said it was hard work that got him to where he is today.

Now his goal is helping the right people get elected.

However, he said he’s not too eager to jump into becoming an elected official.

“I’m more of a tactician,” he said.

Sams also, perhaps cheekily, credited his success, at least partially, to an unlikely source: a receding hairline.

Sams has taken an optimistic outlook, noting that it obfuscates his age to those confused people who pair youth with inexperience.

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