Exit Interview: Dan Scandling’s Appreciation of Virginia Runs Deep
Although he’s worked in the District for more than two decades, Northern Virginia native Dan Scandling remains fiercely loyal to the Old Dominion.
“When I started in 1990, we had one printer in the office and a fax machine that used thermal paper! And ice was delivered in buckets to each office every day!” the veteran chief of staff said of his 25-year stint on Capitol Hill. That part of his career came to a close with the recent retirement of Rep. Frank R. Wolf, R-Va. But Scandling has made a point of staying connected to those elected to act on behalf of the state known as the Mother of Presidents.
“The delegation has a long history of putting politics aside for the good of the Commonwealth,” the newly minted senior vice president for corporate and public affairs at the Ogilvy Washington shop said.
Some of the most memorable politicos he came across include:
Former Sen. John W. Warner, R-Va.
“Senator John Warner was the model,” Scandling said.
Late Rep. Norman Sisisky, D-Va.
“The late Norman Sisisky always had great stories to tell,” Scandling recalled.
Rep. Lewis F. Payne Jr., D-Va.
“Former Congressman L.F. Payne always took time to talk to staff, particularly young staff,” Scandling said.
Rep. Thomas J. Bliley Jr., R-Va.
“And who could forget Congressman Bliley’s bow ties?” he quipped.
Late Rep. Hebert H. Bateman, R-Va.
“When my first boss, Herb Bateman, died in office in 2000, they all went above and beyond the call of duty to help the office deal with his passing,” Scandling saidof the outpouring of support he received from the congressional community.
Late Rep. James A. Traficant Jr., D-Ohio
“I probably shouldn’t say this, but the late Congressman Jim Traficant was probably the most friendly and approachable — OK, and odd — member I would run into on a regular basis,” he said of the widely mythologized lawmaker.
“I used to see him all the time in the Rayburn garage on the way back and forth to the Capitol,” Scandling said of their frequent interactions. “He had those classic 1970s suits, would always ask what was happening and leave you with his trademark line, ‘Beam me up.’”
A quarter-century spent wandering the halls of Congress (he’ll most miss “being able to walk almost anywhere in the Capitol,” he said) exposed Scandling to some unforgettable experiences.
“Hard to forget June 2004 when the Capitol Complex was evacuated when Kentucky Gov. Ernie Fletcher’s plane flew into restricted air space. That was the first time since 9/11 when it was clear there was a serious threat and not a drill. The Capitol Police were running through halls screaming at folks to get out,” he said.
But there were good times, too.
Scandling said he would always cherish the GOP’s reclaiming control of the House (“the first time in  years,” he noted) â€‹during President Bill Clinton’s first midterm elections. Most recently, he was also struck by the broadening of mankind’s horizons.
“The Space Shuttle Discovery making its last flight â€‹in 2012 â€‹ was probably the coolest thing. â€‹I climbed out my window on the second floor of Cannon and stood on the ledge watching,” he said of the indelible moment.
During off hours, Scandling would occasionally head over to the Tune Inn to take a breather. “Can’t beat the West Virginian!” he said of the signature roast beef on rye.
Still, he’s always preferred to unwind, as he’s done since his youth, just across the river.
“I typically went out in Old Town Alexandria with the friends I grew up with,” he said, billing the historic Fish Market as his go-to spot. “No one has better chowder than the Fish Market and I still keep my spare change in a Fish Market signature schooner.”