Hill Climbers: Football Fever

Posted September 30, 2008 at 3:36pm

The excitement of the election season isn’t lost on the communications director for Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-Ala.). But as a former sports reporter, Darrell “D.J.” Jordan can’t help but long for the days when he was part of a different kind of action, when he would spend the fall covering his beloved Washington Redskins.

“I got to go to Redskins practices and games,” he said of his days as a reporter. “I got to meet a lot of the players I had been following for so long.” He admits that he does miss it sometimes. [IMGCAP(1)]

“That’ll kind of fade away,” though, he said. “It’s way more exciting to be involved in politics, especially this year.”

He should be well-practiced by now — he turned from sports to news reporting in 2003. He worked for the Washington bureaus of Fox News and CNN before making the switch to politics. He’s been living in the D.C. metropolitan area since 2001, and the lure of politics and policy eventually overshadowed his love of sports.

“I love the pace and significance of Washington,” he said. “Washington is arguably the most important city in the world.”

Jordan left his job as an assignment desk editor at Fox to become Aderholt’s communications director in early July. He got a fast introduction to politics at the Republican National Convention in early September. He recalled “the electricity in the air” during Alaska

Gov. Sarah Palin’s speech when she accepted the vice presidential nomination, and the enthusiasm Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) garnered when he officially became the GOP’s presidential candidate.

“It was pretty incredible to see so many people energized for the candidate,” Jordan said.

At 30, Jordan is a “self-professed old man” who owns a minivan, enjoys reading the newspaper front to back when he has downtime and likes to go to bed before 11 p.m. Of course, as the married father of three young sons, he probably needs all the sleep he can get.

Mark Bieszka also joined Aderholt’s office in July, working as a staff assistant to the Alabama Congressman.

Bieszka learned early on to be self-sufficient. His parents divorced when he was young, and he took the term “man of the house” to heart. He is a handy repairman around the house and can sew his own clothes, a skill he learned in home economics class in junior high school.

“Growing up, my mom, brother and I really didn’t have the means to afford a repair guy when things broke,” he recalled. “We were living in the original farmhouse in the area, so a lot would go wrong. If something broke, I figured out how to fix it, and if I couldn’t figure it out, I would call my uncles, or my dad as to how to fix it. I simply learned as I went.”

He is proud of this talent and says it is one avenue through which he can be creative.

“I do that in a very manly way, with woodworking and designing,” he said.

Bieszka, 24, graduated from Indiana University with a degree in biochemistry in 2006. After spending the summer in Washington as part of a leadership program, he decided to stick around.

“I love the people, the culture, and I sensed the Lord directing me to stay, and the opportunity presented itself,” Bieszka said of his decision. He turns to his faith when making any big decision, and this one was no different.

“I figure if God is creator and sustainer of this world, then he’s probably got the best advice on how to navigate through these rough waters,” he said.

Although he’s a long way from his home in Plymouth, Ind., Bieszka noted that he has stayed close with his family, particularly his younger brother, who once told the regional newspaper that the older Bieszka is the person he most admires.

A highlight of his time in Washington so far was meeting Palin at a rally in Fairfax, Va. He spoke with her for only 10 or 15 seconds, he said, but the meeting left an impression on him nonetheless.

“I just wanted to let her know I had been praying for her, and for her daughter and son,” he said. “You can tell she’s genuine. She cares about the people and truly wants to help.”

Another change in Aderholt’s office is the addition of Mark Busching, who became chief of staff in the spring.

It was a return to a familiar role for Busching, who held the job previously but left to work as a senior policy assistant to the Transportation secretary and later as managing director of transportation for the Carmen Group. When Aderholt’s chief of staff position opened up again, however, Busching was open to the idea of coming back.

“I felt like I could do more good and have more of an impact back on the Hill,” he said.

Busching has been in Washington for 14 years, and his fondest memory is of the Republican takeover of Congress in 1995.

“I remember Dick Gephardt handing the gavel over to Newt Gingrich,” he said. “It was actually a very poignant moment.”

Busching, 39, is married and has two sons. Although he hasn’t lived there in several years, the native New Yorker remains a fan of hometown teams the Mets, Jets and Islanders.

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