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Former Reid Deputy Takes National Experience to Local Level

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call
Thompson, former deputy chief of staff to Reid, is now a candidate for the D.C. Council.

“I’ve coached Little League right here in the District and we have very few places for people to play,” he said.

On the table in front of him during the interview was a black notebook embossed with the official seal of the U.S. Senate, a relic from nearly nine years as one of Reid’s trusted advisers. Thompson fills the pages with notes on local concerns as he knocks on voters’ doors, practicing retail politics with a perseverance that he learned from his former bosses.

Before joining Reid in 2004, he was chief of staff on President Barack Obama’s U.S. Senate campaign. He worked for former House Majority Leader Richard A. Gephardt in the chamber and on the Missouri Democrat’s presidential campaign. He consulted for more than 100 campaigns during his three-year tenure at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. He’s also managed races in Illinois, Maryland and Virginia.

“My loss is the District’s gain,” Reid said in a statement of support for Thompson’s campaign.

Gephardt said his former aide “understands that having a relationship with individual constituents is vital.” Working in both chambers has “put him in touch with everybody in the House and Senate that you would want to know to deal with any of the issues relating to the District of Columbia. ... He’s in a perfect spot to exercise great help and influence on behalf of the District, his ward and the federal government.”

Thompson must mobilize that political network for what’s shaping up to be a competitive race.

Three other candidates have picked up petitions, according to the District of Columbia Board of Elections, including Charles Allen, former chief of staff to current Ward 6 Councilmember Tommy Wells. Wells is running for the Democratic nomination in the mayoral race.

“I’ve been working and serving in Capitol Hill for the past decade,” Allen said, emphasizing that’s he’s already formed relationships with residents, and he talks to Hill staff daily about everything from local schools to stop signs at dangerous intersections.

Thompson plays up his advocacy on behalf of D.C. issues in the Senate, such as removing social policy riders from the budget. He proudly watched Reid declare his support for D.C. statehood in June.

Thompson can also count on the support of his wife, Britt Weinstock, who works for Del. Donna M.C. Christensen, D-V.I., on the Hill.

“When Barack Obama started looking at running for Senate, that wasn’t a slam dunk,” he said, acknowledging he’s got a competitive campaign ahead. “That was something that was going to take time.”

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