Ben LaBolt, to be the Obama 2012 press secretary, at his Emanuel mayoral campaign office (photo by Lynn Sweet)
WASHINGTON–Former White House spokesman Ben LaBolt, the current communications director for Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel, will be the press secretary for the Obama 2012 re-election campaign, I’ve learned.
LaBolt, 29, a LaGrange native, will join the Obama team as its top spokesman at the Chicago national headquarters in mid-May, after the inauguration of Emanuel, President Obama’s former White House chief of staff. Joining LaBolt as Obama 2012 deputy press secretary, will be Katie Hogan, a Chicago native who recently stepped down as White House associate director of press advance.
Emanuel’s City Hall communications director will be Chris Mather, an Illinois campaign veteran, who will return to Chicago from Washington, where she is the communications director for Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. Emanuel’s press secretary will be
Tarrah Cooper, who was the deputy press secretary for the mayoral campaign; before that she was in the Department of Homeland Security press shop in Washington.
LaBolt, known for his wry humor and an ability to play offense and defense with the press, brings to the Obama 2012 organization experience in the Obama White House as well as the Obama 2008 campaign, where he served as a deputy press secretary.
At the White House, LaBolt juggled a major portfolio of issues–energy, environment, justice and the White House counsel office, where he served as the chief spokesman when Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan were Supreme Court nominees.
Before the Obama 2008 campaign, LaBolt served was the press secretary for Sherrod Brown’s successful Ohio Democratic Senate race; prior to that, he was the press secretary for Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.). LaBolt is a graduate of Lyons Twp. High School and Middlebury College.
Hogan, who grew up in Beverly, was been a fixture with the Obama press corps since the 2008 campaign, where she traveled around the country as the press pool “wrangler,” a role she brought with her to the Obama White House. She is a graduate of St. Ignatius High School and George Washington University.
In City Hall, Mather will run overall strategic communications for Emanuel’s press office and city departments.
Mather’s return to Chicago is illustrative of the sometimes small world of political operatives. Mather, an Obama administration appointee, was the communications director for Dan Hynes 2004 Democratic Illinois Senate primary bid–the contest Obama won. And in 2002, Mather was the campaign manager for the Democratic U.S. House primary bid of Nancy Kaszak–who was beat by Emanuel in a heated battle.