Leistikow hopes that with the 2012 presidential election over, "we can put the political silly season behind us." As the department's top communications officer, Leistikow has had his fair share of political silliness over the last few years, mostly surrounding Solyndra, the bankrupt solar company that received government stimulus dollars. "Now that the president has been reelected, we can focus more on the substance of the conversation without having quite so many political attacks and point-scoring," Leistikow, 36, said. Leistikow's job for the last four years was to be at the side of Obama's first-term Energy secretary, Steven Chu, whose travels were often to tout clean-energy projects that received a slice of $35 billion stimulus funds from the 2009 Recovery Act. Leistikow's challenge for the next four years will be to make sure Washington and the rest of the country don't forget about the successful investments of Obama's first term. "The challenge is to highlight those success stories in a media environment that is not always the most interested in successes," he said. Leistikow has a long history of helping public officials manage the media in political silly seasons, including time with the presidential campaigns of Obama and John Edwards; and with former Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle, a Democrat. Leistikow, a Minnesota native, holds a bachelor's degree from Georgetown University.
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