The Newcomers: In Grandpa’s Shadow

Posted February 25, 2009 at 2:58pm

When one of your earliest memories is campaigning in front of a local fire station for your grandfather’s city council race, it’s not too far-fetched to imagine that someday you’ll end up in politics, too. Such is the case of Richard Hudson, who has gone from stumping for his grandfather in Lake Gaston, N.C., to working as chief of staff for Rep. Mike Conaway (R-Texas).

This is not the first time that Hudson has held the title: He was chief of staff to Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.) and Rep. John Carter (R-Texas) before leaving the Hill to be campaign manager for Pat McCrory’s North Carolina gubernatorial race last June.

Although the campaign was unsuccessful, Hudson said the experience has made him a better chief of staff, ready to work effectively with Conaway and the other staffers in the his job.

“I know myself better and have an awareness of how to make tough decisions,” he said. In a campaign, “you learn in a shorter amount of time what you would have learned in years otherwise.”

Though Hudson has plenty of experience to draw on, coming to a new office is always a challenge. Even though he worked for a Texas Representative in the past, Hudson still has to familiarize himself with the vital issues in the district and with the major concerns of constituents. Working with a new staff also presents its own set of challenges, but Hudson’s colleagues have helped make the transition fairly smooth.

Hudson has known Conaway since his days with Carter’s office and was excited to work with the Texas delegation again. Much as he loves North Carolina, Hudson has embraced the Lone Star State as well. “I tell people North Carolina is my favorite state and Texas is my favorite country,” he said.

As for Conaway, Hudson said he wanted to work for him because of his “reputation as a good person, a real team player and a smart policy person.”

“His future in Congress is very bright, so that’s exciting to be a part of,” Hudson said.

Having worked as chief of staff to three different Representatives, Hudson was bound to make some good memories, but one of the standouts occurred this past Jan. 20. No, he wasn’t among the millions on the National Mall eagerly anticipating President Barack Obama’s inauguration. He was in Midland, Texas, part of Conaway’s district, when former President George W. Bush flew there from Washington, D.C., and was at a “Welcome Home” rally with 30,000 other people.

“The enthusiasm of the crowd was amazing,” Hudson wrote in an e-mail. “This was definitely one of those handful of memorable moments in my time working for the House.”