Capitol Faces: Eric Dell

Position: Chief of staff and counsel, Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.)
Age: 36
Hometown: Ridgeland, S.C.
Marital status/children: Engaged
Last job: Lobbyist with the Keelen Group in D.C.
First job: “Working at a convenience store that my dad owned.”
Most unusual job: “During high school I worked at a meat packing plant. It was very smelly.”
Number of cups of coffee you drink per day: “Zero. No caffeine.”
Religion: Catholic
Favorite political TV show or movie: “I don’t really watch TV, other than news and sports.”
Most inspirational figure: “I would say Pope John Paul II and Ronald Reagan. They both fought to help end communism in the former Soviet Union.”
Dream job (not including present one): Owner of the Washington Redskins
College: University of South Carolina
Graduate School: University of South Carolina School of Law
Passion outside work: Sports, football in particular

Dell’s career move is more of a homecoming than a new adventure. He met Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.) in 1992, and since then has worked with him on political campaigns, in the state legislature and as colleagues in real estate law. He was Wilson’s chief of staff and counsel before leaving for a lobbying firm two years ago.

“We’re like brothers,” Dell says of his boss.

Dell returns to the Hill, however, under different circumstances. He left before Republicans lost the majority in 2006, meaning he has never worked in Congress as a minority staff member.

Lucky for him, he got plenty of practice working in a bipartisan fashion as a Keelen Group lobbyist.

“We’ll have to work across party lines with offices, and I did a lot of that in my lobbying profession, working with Democrats and Republicans both,” he says.

Dell plans to help his boss focus on transportation issues, considering the district’s challenges to move tourists on and off Hilton Head Island and to have effective hurricane evacuation plans.

As a lobbyist, Dell worked on a range of policy issues and even consulted on the grassroots efforts for U2 rocker Bono’s anti-poverty ONE Campaign. He hopes to use those experiences to get Wilson involved in a variety of legislation.

“I would enjoy getting my boss more involved in healthcare, actually, because I think it will be one of the challenges of the upcoming generation,” Dell says, adding that he would also like to see Wilson score a spot on the powerful Appropriations Committee.

As he starts another chapter with Wilson, Dell plans to pick up where the two left off.

“I think we know every quirk of each other, and we work together very well,” he says.

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