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The House Republican Caucus has hired a raft of new committee administrators who will try to bring order to the chaos of the legislative process as the new majority takes office. Their ranks include veteran caucus staffers as well as political refugees from the administration of outgoing GOP Gov. Tim Pawlenty.

House names committee administrators

 Peter Bartz-Gallagher)

Joan Harmon, who will serve as the House Agriculture Committee administrator, is an eight-year veteran caucus staffer who has served as legislative assistant to incoming Ag chair Rod Hamilton. (Staff photo: Peter Bartz-Gallagher)

Veterans of caucus, Pawlenty administration dominate the list

The House Republican Caucus has hired a raft of new committee administrators who will try to bring order to the chaos of the legislative process as the new majority takes office. Their ranks include veteran caucus staffers as well as political refugees from the administration of outgoing GOP Gov. Tim Pawlenty.

“You’ve got a mix of people who are long-time caucus veterans,” one Republican insider said, “and new faces who are not new to politics.”

The following is a who’s-who list of the new CAs.

Harry Kennedy (Ways and Means) became Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s State Sex Offender Policy Coordinator after the former coordinator, Eric Lipman, was appointed by Pawlenty to the Minnesota Court of Appeals. He was a regional chairman in Minnesota for John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign.

Bobby Patrick (Taxes & Property and Local Sales Taxes), a House GOP staffer who is currently working on a law degree at William Mitchell College of Law in St. Paul, has been a legislative assistant for Republican Reps. Tom Emmer, Tara Mack and Tim Sanders. In the summer and fall of 2008, he worked on House campaigns in the Twin Cities suburbs as part of the field staff for the House Republican Campaign Committee (HRCC). He also spent three months as a congressional staff assistant in Washington, D.C.

Aaron Solem (Education Finance) comes to the House from the Senate, where he was a GOP legislative assistant. He has done field work for the HRCC.

Carmen Carter (Education Policy) has worked for the caucus in various capacities since 2002 and has been a research consultant for four of those years. She was a committee legislative assistant when Rep. Mark Buesgens was chairman of the Education Policy Committee during the chamber’s last Republican majority in 2005-06. Her political experience includes serving as assistant political director for Brian Sullivan’s 2002 run for the GOP gubernatorial endorsement and as direct mail manager for the Republican Party of Minnesota.

Christine Kiel (Health and Human Services Finance) comes from the Pawlenty Department of Human Services, where she has been the director of legislative relations since July 2009. On the Senate side, she was a researcher and committee staffer from 1998 to 2006. She was rumored to have been recruited heavily by both the House and Senate. House GOP chief of staff Chas Anderson, who also worked in the Pawlenty administration, was reportedly responsible for convincing her to join House staff.

Joan Harmon (Agriculture) has spent eight years working in the House and has been incoming committee chair Rod Hamilton’s legislative assistant. She also owns her own horse training business.

Amy Rudolph (Environment and Energy Policy and Finance) comes from Pawlenty’s Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, where she was public affairs director.

Dan Dwight (Commerce & Jobs and Economic Development) has been a research consultant for the House GOP Caucus. A native of Bemidji, he’s regarded as someone closely attuned to rural Minnesota issues.

Holly Iverson Hayden (Health and Human Services Policy) has been a long-time caucus staffer and once worked for former GOP Rep. Kevin Goodno. More recently she got a law degree from William Mitchell and worked for Thomson Reuters.

John Hultquist (Public Safety Policy and Finance) has worked in the governor’s office handling judicial appointments for the last three administrations.

John Reynolds (Civil Law) worked most recently at the Leonard Street and Deinard firm as a legal services specialist. He has also worked in Washington D.C., where he interned for North Carolina Congressman (now U.S. Sen.) Richard Burr in both his D.C. congressional office and his U.S. Senate campaign.

Jody Withers (Judiciary Policy and Finance) has returned to his home state after working for Republican state legislators in Texas. Among his assignments in the Lone Star State was working for Rep. Suzanna Gratia Hupp, who got into politics through her advocacy for conceal/carry laws after her parents were among 23 people killed when a man opened fire at a cafeteria in Killeen, Texas. Since returning to Minnesota, Withers has worked at the political consulting firm Strategic Fundraising.

Mark Nisley (Transportation Policy and Finance) has been a research consultant for the House Republican Caucus. He has a long history of political activism in east central Minnesota and once chaired the Pine County Republican Party. He also did a stint on the Pine City City Council.

Kirstin Sersland Beach (Legacy Division) was appointed by Pawlenty in 2007 to serve on the Metropolitan Council. She ran unsuccessfully in 2004 and 2006 in the heavily Democratic House District 64A. Beach has been a go-to Republican pundit in recent years on public affairs television shows like Twin Cities Public Television’s Almanac.

Joe Marble (State Government Operations & Veterans Division) is a long-time caucus staffer who has also been a passionate activist for professional baseball in Minnesota. Marble, along with fellow baseball activist David Hoch, camped out on the steps of the state Capitol in 1997 when Twins owner Carl Pohlad was reportedly in talks to sell the team to a North Carolina group.

Rory Koch (Government Operations and Elections) is currently the legislative assistant for the committee’s incoming chair, Rep. Joyce Peppin. Koch has worked for the caucus during periods when they’ve been in both the majority and the minority. He has also chaired the Minnesota 4th Congressional District Republican Party.

Mike Valleau (Higher Education Policy and Finance) has researched higher education issues for the caucus in the past. He was a committee legislative assistant on the House Taxes Committee when former GOP Rep. Phil Krinkie was chairman. He also worked on the HRCC’s metro-area field staff in numerous election cycles.

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