by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
The old Washington adage that personnel is policy may be especially important in a time like ours when all other modes of advancing policy seem paralyzed by incoherence and dysfunction. That’s true in the executive branch and it’s true in Congress too. So a personnel announcement like the one from Florida senator Marco Rubio today is worth noticing.
Rubio has hired Mike Needham, co-founder and president of Heritage Action, to be his new chief of staff. Needham is a friend, so you can treat my sense of this with a helping of salt if you like, but I think it’s a smart move and a good sign.
Rubio has been signaling for some time that he’s looking for ways to take up the concerns of working-class families in the Senate. This has been his response to the election, though it was plainly a priority for him before too. And like a number of other younger Republicans in the Senate, he’s looking for ways to apply enduring principles to some new problems — ways, that is, to be a conservative in a new political environment and to help the GOP and the country see what conservatives might have to offer in the coming years.
It’s not too surprising that he sees Needham as a kindred spirit in that effort.