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December 17, 2007

Cantwell gets new chief of staff

Posted by David Postman at 8:58 AM

Michael Meehan, Sen. Maria Cantwell's chief of staff and architect of her 2006 re-election victory, will leave the job at the end of next month. Meehan will become a partner in Virilion a public affairs firm in D.C. He will also be working on his own as a political consultant, and one of his first clients could be Gov. Christine Gregoire. Meehan said he's been talking to Team Gregoire as well as the Democratic Governor's Association and it seems likely he'll play a consultant's role in the re-election campaign.

He helped bring Cantwell from a razor-thin victory to looking like a powerhouse, so maybe he's developing a bit of a specialty in that field.

Meehan is well connected among D.C. Democrats. He is a former aide to Tom Daschle — Daschle's son runs the DGA — and was a key aide to Sen. John Kerry. He was part of the team that Kerry brought in late in his 2004 campaign for president after a major housecleaning of his staff.

Cantwell's new chief of staff is Maura O'Neill. She and Meehan will work through a transition in January. O'Neill is a management consultant and a former dotcom executive with some political background and an expertise in energy issues, a favorite topic for Cantwell. She was on Seattle City Light's Energy Advisory Board, and was president of Explore Life, a group pushing for public and private investment in a regional biotech center. She has also served on the city's Public Safety Civil Service Commission. O'Neill has also been chairwoman of the Washington Women's Political Caucus.

(Hat tip to Mike Seely at the Weekly, who earlier reported unconfirmed reports of Meehan's departure.)

Katherine Lister, Cantwell's deputy chief of staff and communications director, is also leaving. Her replacement as communications director is Ciaran Clayton, who had been doing the same job for Rep. Brian Baird.

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