Heard on the Hill

Who’s Behind Congress’ Messaging? That Would Be a 24-Year-Old

Young communications directors go to bat for Mississippi’s Harper, Thompson

Colby Jordan, left, works for Rep. Gregg Harper, R-Miss., and Guy King works for Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss. (Courtesy Colby Jordan and Guy King)

The situation at the Mexican border this spring divided delegations in Congress.

Democrat Bennie Thompson decried the “discriminatory policy enacted by Trump designed to separate” migrant kids from their families.

But fellow Mississippi Rep. Gregg Harper, a Republican, blamed parents who choose “to break federal law.”

Guy King and Colby Jordan were in the thick of it. They have the task of relaying two very different political messages for their respective bosses.

Still, as mid-20s Mississippi communications directors, they keep finding common ground.

Both rose to senior staff positions very quickly. King, 25, is a Jackson native who interned for Sen. Claire McCaskill, worked as a reporter and went to graduate school before joining Thompson’s office. He became communications director in August 2017.

Jordan, 24, took a parallel path. A Madison native, she interned for former Sen. Thad Cochran, worked for Mississippi State University and went to graduate school before joining Harper’s office. She became communications director this February.

“The Hill is a unique place in that people come from all kinds of backgrounds, but I think it steers toward younger people,” she said. “I have a lot of friends on the Hill that are around my age … maybe in junior roles at this age, but still people coming straight out of college.”

While together, they don’t seem young. But in a room with other House communications directors, they might be the youngest.

“I’ve noticed it at times — like if I go to communications director meetings, it’s definitely pretty noticeable that I’m probably the youngest person. Other communications directors, of course, know that I’m the youngest. But … people know I do my job, I do great work,” King said.

Being the youngest just means there are a lot of people to look up to, Jordan said.

“A lot of the communications directors are older, but it’s kind of nice having that mentorship and being able to learn from people who have been here for so long,” she said.

Communicating is not their only gig; both have dual roles. As director of special projects, Jordan attends policy meetings too.

“When I sit in on those meetings, sometimes it is noticeable,” she said.

King said the same of the policy meetings he attends in his role as legislative assistant.

Though they’re on opposite sides of the aisle, they’re both members of the Mississippi Society Board, and they often cross paths in the course of their workdays.

They often talk about the stances their offices are taking on an issue, King said.

“Mississippians are pretty close here, not even with party lines,” he said. “We all know each other and know of each other.”

Jordan agreed. “We truly do come up here as a family, we’re friends, we stick together and we all help each other succeed,” she said. “We may not agree on everything but at the end of the day, we have a deep respect for each other. I have a deep respect for Guy, and so I know that if I pick up the phone, we’re going to be able to work together. I trust him.”

ICYMI: Cochran Bids Goodbye to Senate After Nearly 40 Years Representing Mississippi

Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call on your iPhone or your Android.