At a Glance
- Career History:
Chief of Staff to President
(January 2009-January 2011); Chief of Staff for Sen.
(2005 to 2008); Chief of Staff for Sen.
Byron L. Dorgan
(2002 to 2005); Campaign Manager for Sen. Max Baucus (2001 to 2002)
- Hometown: Born in Denver, Colo. and raised in Boise, Idaho
- Alma Mater: University of Montana, B.A. (political science),
Path to Power
Born in Denver, Colo., but raised in Boise, Idaho, Messina earned a B.A. in political science from the University of Montana. While in college, he worked for the Montana Democratic Party and as press secretary for Democrat Frank Morrison in his unsuccessful run for governor.
Messina managed his first campaign in 1993 when Dan Kemmis (D) ran for mayor of Missoula, Mont. He also worked as a chief of staff in the Montana state Senate before heading East to Washington.
Messina is primarily a campaign guru, but he served as Senate Finance Chairman Baucus' top aide during a number of key fights over health-care reform, Social Security and Bush's controversial 2001 and 2003 tax cuts. Baucus defected from his party to support those tax cuts in 2001, but later pulled back on that position.
During Obama's 2008 campaign, Messina oversaw every detail. He ran staff and daily meetings with Obama, administered the budget and monitored all day-to-day activities. "I spend a lot of time making sure the trains run on time - making sure that Barack and the staff get to where they need to go and the message is right and basically making the departments talk to each other," he said. "We've grown from a small business to a Fortune 500 company, and coordinating all that is probably the biggest piece of what I do."
Messina has worked as chief of staff for Sens. Max Baucus and Byron Dorgan, as well as Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-N.Y.). He came to Washington as a legislative aide for Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) in 1995.
As a top player in the 2008 Obama campaign, he reported directly to campaign manager Plouffe and chief strategist David Axelrod. As deputy chief of staff, he reported directly to White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel.