Written by: Jackie Kucinich, Roll Call Staff
Featured in: Roll Call
House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) announced Tuesday that he is bringing back his former top aide and director of the "Contract With America," Barry Jackson, to succeed the late Paula Nowakowski as his chief of staff.
Nowakowski died suddenly of a heart attack on Jan. 10. She was 46.
"No one in America is better prepared or better qualified than Barry to pick up the torch in the wake of our tragic and unexpected loss," Boehner said in a statement. "I'm deeply grateful for Barry's willingness to return to active duty on our team in what promises to be an important year not just for Republicans, but for America."
Jackson was Boehner's chief of staff from 1991 to 2001. In 1994, he was director of the Republicans' Contract With America, the blueprint for change that the party used to catapult itself back into the House majority. Jackson left Capitol Hill to work as a deputy to then-senior adviser Karl Rove in President George W. Bush's White House.
In 2007, Jackson was appointed assistant to the president for strategic initiatives and external affairs.
"By bringing the director of the Contract with America back to the Hill during this important time for the nation, we're sending a message that Republicans are serious about listening to the people, building a principled and lasting majority, and renewing the drive for smaller, more accountable government," Boehner said.
Terry Holt, principal of Holt Strategies and spokesman for Bush's 2004 presidential campaign, said Jackson was an excellent choice.
"He is a quiet, focused strategist that understands Congressional politics as well as anyone else I have met in my life," said Holt, who worked for Jackson as the spokesman for the House Republican Conference in 1996.
"I can't think of anyone I'd rather work for or work with," he said.
One GOP strategist close to Boehner said: "Barry's the perfect choice for a near-seamless transition given the circumstances. He knows John better than anyone, and he helped assemble much of the team that still works in the Boehner operation."
"Washington's full of people who are policy experts or political veterans or skilled communicators," the strategist added. "Barry is among a very rare group that is all three."
Ralph Hellmann, a former House leadership staffer who is now a lobbyist for Information Technology Industry Council, said Jackson also enjoys a good relationship with K Street.
"He is very responsive and understands where you are coming from," Hellmann said. "But he is always very clear about who he is fighting for."