CUTTING IN. Stephanie Cutter has been named assistant to President Obama for special projects. In that role, she's expected to advise the White House on communications and outreach for initiatives like the implementation of the healthcare reform law. Cutter was counselor to Treasury Secretary Geithner and was chief of staff to First Lady Michelle Obama on the campaign. She also worked as an aide to Senate Majority Leader Reid and the late Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass.
SUNSHINE STATE. Former Rep. Jim Davis, D-Fla., left Congress in 2006 but he remains connected to matters inside the Beltway. These days Davis is based in Tampa, Fla., and serves as a partner with law firm Holland & Knight. "I'm providing a lot of counsel on healthcare issues," Davis says. "I commute to D.C. regularly, and as needed. It's very easy to do from Tampa."
Davis was elected in 1996 and compiled a centrist voting record in the House. He was the first member of Congress from Florida to visit Cuba, and he's pushed for relaxing travel restrictions to allow Floridians to visit family members there. Davis left Congress to run for governor, and was the Democratic nominee in a losing bid against Republican Gov. Charlie Crist.
Does he miss the legislative battles and rancor of the House? "I miss the people that I served with there. But I keep in touch. I stay active politically in Florida," Davis says. Now that Crist's Republican primary race against Marco Rubio for a Florida Senate seat is getting national attention, Davis has been keeping close tabs on how the GOP battle could affect the state Democratic Party. "Whatever Charlie Crist does is going to have a dramatic impact on all the races this season," Davis says. (Crist trails Rubio in polling, and may decide to run as an independent in November.)
But despite politicking and following the debates in Congress, Davis says he'd still rather spend time with his family. "Of course, now my sons are teenagers, so their views have changed about the benefits of me being home. You just can't win," he jokes. One of his sons is a freshman at Stetson University and his other son is headed to Florida State University to study music.
Davis grew up in Tampa and was the Democratic state House majority leader. He's still involved in regional matters: he's helping to put together a campaign for a referendum in Tampa to build an enhanced transit system. He's also working on a statewide redistricting reform proposal. When he's not working on issues, Davis enjoys running and seeing the beautiful Sunshine State scenery. "I'm still running, but now I'm just pounding the pavement."
This article appears in the April 24, 2010, edition of NJ Daily.