Almost a Dining Room Set

Posted September 17, 2003 at 5:23pm

Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe has appointed three seasoned Democratic activists to serve as deputy chairmen of the party. The conspicuously diverse group consists of former White House adviser Ben Johnson, Rep. Mike Honda (D-Calif.) and DNC Women’s Caucus Chairwoman Susan Turnbull.

“Our new DNC deputy chairs bring a broad range of experience and passion for promoting the ideals of the Democratic Party,” McAuliffe said.

Johnson, who spent two years working for former President Jimmy Carter, is one of only 30 staff members to serve the entire eight-year tenure of former President Bill Clinton.

As assistant to the president and director of Clinton’s Initiative for One America, Johnson oversaw the first White House office dedicated to closing the opportunity gap for minorities in the United States.

Turnbull, a member of the DNC executive committee, was national chairwoman of the Women’s Leadership Forum and has served on the board of the Metropolitan Washington Jewish Social Service Agency for 15 years.

A former chairwoman of the Montgomery County (Md.) Democratic Central Committee, Turnbull was elected to the DNC in 1992 and was chairwoman of the Women’s Caucus events during the 2000 Democratic National Convention.

Honda represents California’s 15th district in Santa Clara County, which has the largest Asian Pacific American population of any Congressional district in the continental United States.

Born in California, he spent his early childhood with his family in an internment camp in Colorado during World War II. He served in the Peace Corps as a young man, and after returning from abroad, he worked as a public school teacher and principal.

Panetta — Not Leon — Joins With McCurry. Michael Panetta, former senior consultant with Issue Dynamics Inc. and deputy task leader for Internet development at the Housing and Urban Development Department, has joined Grassroots Enterprise Inc. as director of public affairs.

“Michael Panetta has the sharpest strategic approach to online public affairs

initiatives I’ve seen,” said Michael McCurry, chairman of Grassroots Enterprise Inc.

“He broke new ground during his term as executive director with the political action committee for Social Security Reform called X-PAC when he launched Web-based advocacy spots for online campaigns and simultaneously engineered a favorable opinion from the Federal Election Commission to use them,” McCurry said.

Panetta will be responsible for developing, planning and implementing advocacy strategies for associations and corporate clients in the public affairs sector.

Although McCurry was White House press secretary under former President Bill Clinton, Panetta is not, so far as he knows, related to Leon Panetta, Clinton’s White House chief of staff and budget director.

“I’ve never so much as gotten a birthday card,” Michael Panetta joked.

Michael Panetta said that Leon Panetta is, however, “the spitting image of my uncle,” and noted that their families come from the same region of Italy, which leads him to believe that there could be some connection someplace.

“My fiancée is convinced we’re related,” he said.

The firm has offices in Washington, D.C., and San Francisco.

A Call for Nominations. PoliticsOnline, the Web site that monitors trends in Internet campaigning and offers advice and services to candidates, is asking its visitors to nominate the top 25 individuals, organizations and companies that are having the greatest impact on the way the Internet is changing politics.

The winners will be announced at the fourth annual Worldwide Forum on Electronic Democracy, which will be held next week in (ooh la la) Issy-les-Moulineaux, France, near Paris.

To nominate someone or something, send an e-mail to Editor@PoliticsOnline.com. The deadline is Friday.

Class Reunion. Maryland Gov. Bob Ehrlich (R), a member of the House Republican Class of 1994, is taking to the road to help several classmates who are seeking higher office.

Ehrlich has already headlined fundraisers for Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.) and for the erstwhile campaign of former Rep. David McIntosh (R-Ind.), who recently dropped out of the Hoosier State gubernatorial campaign.

Now, according to The Gazette newspaper, Ehrlich is scheduled to stump on behalf of two 2004 Senate candidates who entered Congress with him: Rep. George Nethercutt (R-Wash.) and Rep. Richard Burr (R-N.C.).

Ehrlich was also supposed to appear at a fundraiser for another House classmate running for Senate, Rep. Mark Foley (R-Fla.), but Foley, citing the failing health of his parents, just dropped out of that race.

Jersey Girl. Meryl Justin Chertoff, a former Federal Emergency Management Agency official and homeland security expert, has joined Nancy H. Becker Associates, one of the top public affairs firms in New Jersey, as vice president and legislative counsel.

At FEMA, Chertoff served as chief of the disaster response branch in the office of legislative affairs. Previously, she headed New Jersey’s Washington, D.C., office under acting Gov. Donald DiFrancesco (R) and current Gov. James McGreevey (D).

Nancy H. Becker Associates is a 25-year-old public affairs firm with offices right across the street from the New Jersey statehouse in Trenton.

This summer, it merged with Princeton Communications Group, a full-service marketing and communications firm.

No Fan of Kerry’s. MassReform, a Republican organization headed by Bay State GOP activist Ian Bayne, is pulling a petition it was circulating online demanding that Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) apologize for comparing President Bush to Saddam Hussein.

Bayne said that he was withdrawing the petition because Kerry is doing enough to lose his presidential bid on his own.

“The less we interfere with John Kerry’s message the better,” Bayne said.

New PAC Debuts. WE LEAD — Women Engaged in Leadership, Education, Action and Democracy — a new women’s political action committee designed to benefit the Democratic presidential nominee, will hold its inaugural event next Tuesday on Capitol Hill.

Sen. Joseph Biden (D-Del.), Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) and veteran Democratic strategist and TV personality Paul Begala will headline the event, which organizers have called “Why Bush Can’t Win.” Tickets cost $50.

WE LEAD was organized by a group of politically active Democratic women and is led by Trish Brennan-Gac, who also serves as its treasurer.

The PAC has sought an advisory opinion from the Federal Election Commission on whether it can raise funds and establish a savings account for the 2004 Democratic presidential nominee.

For more information, check the PAC’s Web site at www.weleadindc.org.