GOP ‘Message Guru’ Heads for K Street

Antonia Ferrier joins Forbes-Tate after 13 years handling communications for top Republicans on both sides of the Capitol.

Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, and aide Antonia Ferrier, gesture to a visitor in the senate subway before the senate luncheons in the Capitol. 
National Journal
March 17, 2014, 3:27 p.m.

Grow­ing up in Lex­ing­ton, Mass., after her par­ents emig­rated from Bri­tain, Ant­o­nia Fer­ri­er found her­self sur­roun­ded by lib­er­als. “It was an ex­cep­tion­ally Demo­crat­ic ho­met­own,” she said.

So Fer­ri­er was pretty much a main­stream Demo­crat when she headed to Wash­ing­ton and Amer­ic­an Uni­versity in 1992. “I al­ways knew I’d end up in D.C.,” she said. “After high school I knew I wanted to be in­volved in polit­ics and policy.”

Things changed after gradu­ation when she joined Bar­bour Grif­fith & Ro­gers, a lobby shop foun­ded by Haley Bar­bour after he stepped down as chair­man of the Re­pub­lic­an Na­tion­al Com­mit­tee in 1997. One of the prin­cipals at the firm had been an aide to former Sen. Richard Lugar, the Re­pub­lic­an from In­di­ana, and after much dis­cus­sion and de­bate on is­sues far and wide, Fer­ri­er had an epi­phany. “I came to real­ize I was a Re­pub­lic­an,” she said.

Fer­ri­er was still in ex­plor­a­tion mode, though, and she moved to New York in 1998 to take a job with a boutique com­mu­nic­a­tions firm. That las­ted just two years. “The 2000 elec­tion happened,” she said, “and I just knew I needed to come back to D.C.”

Since then Fer­ri­er, now 40, has blos­somed in­to what The Wash­ing­ton Post once de­scribed as “one of the top Re­pub­lic­an mes­sage gurus on Cap­it­ol Hill.”

She star­ted at the Na­tion­al Re­pub­lic­an Sen­at­ori­al Com­mit­tee un­der former Sen. Bill Frist of Ten­ness­ee. When Frist moved up to Sen­ate ma­jor­ity lead­er in 2003, Fer­ri­er moved up with him, work­ing in the lead­er’s press of­fice.

Late in 2003 Fer­ri­er moved to the of­fice of then-Sen. Olympia Snowe, a Maine Re­pub­lic­an, and man­aged her com­mu­nic­a­tions for more than three years.

After a brief stint at Man­ning Selvage & Lee, Fer­ri­er real­ized she wasn’t done yet on Cap­it­ol Hill and moved to the House to handle press for then-Minor­ity Whip Roy Blunt. When Blunt op­ted not to run for whip again in 2009, then-Minor­ity Lead­er John Boehner brought Fer­ri­er on board and she was the voice of House Re­pub­lic­ans in re­spond­ing to every move made by the new Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion.

In 2010, Fer­ri­er moved back across the Cap­it­ol to take over the com­mu­nic­a­tions shop of Sen. Or­rin Hatch, a Utah Re­pub­lic­an, when it ap­peared that Hatch would be­come chair­man of the Sen­ate Fin­ance Com­mit­tee if the GOP won a ma­jor­ity in the midterm elec­tions. “That’s a com­mit­tee of gi­ants,” she said, mak­ing it an op­por­tun­ity too good to pass up.

In­stead it was Boehner who rose to a po­s­i­tion of great­er power, but Fer­ri­er said she has no re­grets. This week she is look­ing back on a rich and dra­mat­ic ca­reer with Re­pub­lic­ans on both sides of the Cap­it­ol to take a po­s­i­tion as seni­or vice pres­id­ent at the lob­by­ing firm For­bes-Tate.

“I’ll deeply miss hav­ing Ant­o­nia around,” Hatch said in a trib­ute on the Sen­ate floor this month, “not only for her sage ad­vice and coun­sel, but also for her wit and sense of hu­mor, and her will­ing­ness for straight talk.”

Fer­ri­er has her own fond memor­ies of both the House and the Sen­ate, in­clud­ing little dif­fer­ences like the fact that you can have a Black­Berry on the House floor but not on the Sen­ate floor.

“The House is a won­der­ful place,” Fer­ri­er said. “Sen­ate snobs are snobs at their own risk, be­cause the heart and soul of both parties really does reside in the House.”

What We're Following See More »
Mueller Made 14 Criminal Referrals
8 hours ago
The Report Is Here
15 hours ago
Nadler Asks Mueller to Testify By May 23
16 hours ago
Barr OK With Mueller Testifying
16 hours ago
Report Finds 10 Episodes of Potential Obstruction
16 hours ago

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.