Determination Paid Off for Powerful Whip Staffer Kelly Dixon

Thursday, 10 Jul 2014 12:19 PM

By John Blosser

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Being at the right place at the right time, and refusing to leave, has opened the doors to a lengthy political career in the House of Representatives for Kelly Dixon.

In an interview with Politico, Dixon, who now serves as deputy floor director for Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., suddenly became one of the most powerful female staffers in the House when McCarthy was elected majority whip to replace Rep. Eric Cantor, D-Va.

Kelly got her first House job with Rep. Ken Calvert, R-Calif., through sheer determination, she told Politico.

"I showed up on his doorstep and said, 'I went to college in your district; surely you want to hire me.' I had no real concept about how you get a job up here generally, so I just sort of sat down in the front office and said, 'I’ll wait for the chief of staff to have a few minutes.'"

Eventually, chief of staff Dave Ramey took "pity" on Dixon, languishing in their waiting room, and hired her as a "gofer," and she has been climbing the House ladder since.

Dixon made her way up by working for Rep. Tom Reynolds, D-N.Y., for eight years as legislative director, followed by a stint with Rep. Chris Lee, R-N.Y., as deputy chief of staff from 2009 until 2011, when the married Lee resigned after when it was discovered he had posted a shirtless photo of himself to a woman he met on Craigslist. Dixon joined McCarthy's team in 2011.

Just days after McCarthy landed the majority leader position, Dixon sat in his office, again seeking work, and got it.

Dixon, 40, has the task of educating new Republican members on upcoming legislation.

"I try to keep in really good communication with the personal office staff, just breaking down the bills, letting them know what the committees are saying about things and trying to put it in one package for them," she told Politico.

The job has gotten busy. Since signing on with McCarthy, she’s made six trips with him sponsored by the Congressional Institute.

While senior female staffers are relatively rare in the House, Dixon said, "I never felt nor was treated like I was the female or the woman on the floor team. I just never had that personal experience.

"You show up, you do the job that’s right in front of you, the best you can and try to learn new things, and that’s all that mattered."

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