D.C. resident Hickey, 39, has done stints at the NRCC, National Republican Senatorial Committee and ONE, a grass-roots campaign to eradicate poverty and preventable disease. While she’s had a long tenure inside the Beltway, she lacks that common D.C. taste for being the center of attention, preferring to work outside the glare of the media’s klieg lights.
Colleagues, friends and members who have worked with her say her press shyness cloaks an extraordinary savvy.
“She seems kind of quiet — until you get to know her,” former Rep. Bobby Schilling, R-Ill., said with a chuckle.
Joanna Burgos, who was in charge of the NRCC’s independent expenditure operation during the 2012 cycle and is friends with Hickey, said eschewing the media spotlight is part of her personality.
Hickey “may not be someone that speaks often, but when she speaks, you better listen,” Burgos said. “Because what she’s going to say is not only very strategic and very well thought out, but probably a solution that no one else has thought of.”
Schilling, who lost his re-election bid in November, lavished praise on her strategic vision and said he appreciated that she knew what it was like to run a tough race.
In talking to members and staffers who worked with Hickey during the 2012 cycle, whether they won or lost, that was the overriding theme: She understands how ultra-competitive campaigns work, not on some theoretical level, but on the ground, in the trenches.
Chris Hansen, who managed Colorado Rep. Mike Coffman’s difficult but ultimately successful re-election campaign last year, said he spoke with Hickey at least every other day during the final months of 2012. And, he added, it meant a lot that she had been through hard races herself.
“It’s not like you’re sitting there talking to someone in D.C. who hasn’t gotten their hands dirty on a real campaign,” Hansen said. “She doesn’t get rattled easily. She’s been through it all. She’s seen it all.”
Terri Henderson, 6, center, whose mother is El Salvador, attends a rally with members of Congress at Union Station's Columbus Circle to announce the Restore Opportunity, Strengthen, and Improve the Economy (ROSIE) Act on July 29, 2014. The legislation provides incentives for government contractors to pay a living wage and other benefits that would help low-income workers.