Sen. Bob Corker, chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, has big ambitions to overhaul congressional oversight of U.S. foreign policy. Getting people to pay attention to the Tennessee Republican’s proposals, in a competitive media environment, is Micah Johnson’s job.
Johnson: Back from the Rubio campaign (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
Corker’s new communications director says her boss, despite his penchant for wonky ideas, shouldn’t be underestimated. He’s also demonstrated the ability to get long-shot, big-ticket items passed, such as last year’s law that gave Congress the power to review President Barack Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran.
“If he has to use all of his political capital finding a solution, he is happy to do that and he is willing to take the blame when things go poorly, and he is willing to let someone else take the credit when they go well,” she says.
Congress did review the deal. Corker voted against it last year, but Republican senators failed to get the 60 Senate votes they needed to block it from going forward.
Johnson says her job allows her to “dig a few feet in on” the many different topics Corker is focusing on, including bills to reauthorize State Department functions that have gone years without congressional review, revamp global food-aid programs and combat modern-day slavery.
“Making sure that you are adapting to the constant changes that are occurring in how people get information to ensure that your message is breaking through, I think, has become more complex and more important than ever,” says Todd Womack, Corker’s chief of staff. He adds that Johnson has the experience to do just that.
Johnson has been with Corker’s office almost continuously since she landed an internship with the Tennessee Republican the summer of 2009 before her senior year of college as a business major at the University of Tennessee. She only left briefly, earlier this year, to work as a regional spokesperson for Florida GOP Sen. Marco Rubio’s presidential campaign in January and February.
When Corker’s then-communications director Tara DiJulio left earlier this year for a job at General Electric, the senator asked Johnson if she would return.
Johnson is well known among Capitol Hill flacks from her service on the executive board of the Senate Press Secretaries Association.