Hill Climbers: Change, Republican Style

Posted January 12, 2010 at 3:19pm

Stephanie Genco can point back to one election that sparked her career. Before 2002, Genco was just a high school junior, only mildly interested in current affairs. But the election of Congressman Bob Ehrlich (R) to governor in 2002 would make politics really hit home for the Marylander.

[IMGCAP(1)]Looking back, Genco remembers thinking: “Wow, if you’re a Republican and you’re able to win … office in Maryland, which is not necessarily a Republican-friendly state, you have to have some really good people on your staff to get your message out there.—

Fast-forward seven years, and Genco now finds herself in a similar messaging game. Early this month, Genco was hired as the Republican press secretary for the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

The position marks Genco’s second job on Capitol Hill. Previously, Genco worked on the Homeland Security Committee, where she was also the Republican press secretary.

Even though an election might have been the spark for Genco, internships provided a slow course to a job for this self-described “political nerd.— While in high school, Genco had stints as a page with the Maryland state Senate and with then-Maryland state Sen. Bob Hooper (R).

Genco continued this internship streak while in college at James Madison University. As an undergraduate, Genco held summer positions with then-Gov. Ehrlich as well as with the public affairs office of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy.

“Looking back, I can’t believe how lucky I’ve been throughout my experience to work for all these people that were just such awesome mentors,— Genco said.

All of the different experiences would pay off in harnessing a job on Capitol Hill. After graduating from JMU in 2007 with a degree in political studies and media arts and design, Genco immediately headed to Washington, D.C., to be the press secretary for the Homeland Security Committee.

“I had packed up my car on the day after graduation,— she said. “It was a whirlwind to come up to D.C., but it was always something I wanted to do.—

[IMGCAP(2)]Genco would stay at the Homeland Security Committee for two and a half years. But with the 2008 elections, change became something that the Republican staffer also wanted, and Genco began looking for new positions.

“I wanted to kind of see what other options were out there,— she said. “The press world is small, so the opportunity became available with Oversight and Government Reform and I was lucky enough to have a chance to interview and they took me on, thank goodness.—

Eventually, Genco hopes the pace of her new job becomes frantically busy. Right now, Congressional Research Service reports are Genco’s main staple, as she tries to gain a greater understanding of the committee.

Genco said she looks forward to building on the Republicans’ work, which over the past year held a steady drumbeat against the Obama administration on many issues.

“There’s such an interest now in how government works and what’s happening with programs and where money is going so [with] the ramping up of the press team hopefully we’ll be able to tell more of those stories,— Genco said.

Beyond her new professional pursuits, Genco has another reason to be happy: the Baltimore Ravens. Mention the Ravens’ recent victory over the New England Patriots to the staffer, and you’re likely to hear a loud “Yes!—

“I’m so glad I watched that football game alone,— Genco said. “I was just yelling at the television and would have totally caused a scene if I were in public. I’m thrilled — that was an incredible game.—

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