Mo Elleithee, communications director for the Democratic National Committee, announced in a post on Medium Tuesday that he’s leaving the DNC to serve as executive director of the newly created Georgetown Institute of Politics and Public Service at the McCourt School of Public Service.
“I’m leaving politics to learn how to do it better,” Elleithee wrote. “And I’m counting on young people to show me how.” Elleithee, a veteran Democratic consultant, is no stranger to the way it's been done.
"I once had a national political reporter tell me he was 'totally psyched' to hear I was joining a campaign, because that meant 'blood on the walls.' For years afterwards, I considered that a compliment."
He's worked on four presidential campaigns, most recently as Hillary Rodham Clinton's 2008 spokesman.
He was a founding partner of political consulting firms Hilltop Public Solutions and Three Point Media, from which he's been on leave while at the DNC. He's also advised countless Senate and gubernatorial candidates, working extensively with Virginia Democrats.
In 2012, he was a media adviser for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee's independent expenditure campaign. Six years earlier, he ran the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee's independent expenditure effort against then-Virginia Sen. George Allen.
Youth outreach is hardly a novel idea when it comes to politics. But Elleithee thinks it can be taken further. “We need young people to take the whole thing over.”
Georgetown feels like home for Elleithee. A proud and vocal Hoya fan, he graduated from the School of Foreign Service in 1994. Since 2011, he's been an adjunct professor at McCourt, where he teaches a class on campaigns.
“His deep experience at all levels of politics makes him perfectly suited to lead Georgetown’s effort to engage the next generation of public servants,” McCourt School Dean Edward Montgomery said in a release Tuesday.
As for his partisan past, Elleithee's not leaving it at the university gate. “I’m a proud Democrat,” he wrote. “That’s never going to change.” But he wants to figure out how, as he concluded his essay, “We can be fierce partisans and still be productive.”
His career move won him praise from partisans on the other side of the aisle. Republican National Committee Chief Strategist and Communications Director Sean Spicer congratulated his Democratic counterpart on Twitter Tuesday afternoon.
The Institute is expected to launch its fellowship program this fall, in plenty of time to be engaged in next year's elections.
But Elleithee hopes that the program will be about more than hosting big names in an auditorium. “... We’re not just going to be a place where a bunch of political veterans come to talk to or at students," he wrote. "We want this to be a place where students drive the conversation.”
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