Survey: John Wyatt

Position: Chief of staff, Rep. Pete Olson (R-Texas)

Age: 33

Hometown: Houston

Marital status/children: Single, no children

Last job: Senior legislative assistant for Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas)

First job on Capitol Hill: Staff assistant for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee

First job ever: Grocery bagger at a Food Lion

Most unusual job: “Being a new chief of staff for a freshman member is easily the most unusual job I’ve ever had — my duties have ranged from hiring the staff to trying to get the fifth-floor Cannon radiators to work before we froze to death.”

Religion: Catholic

College: Duke University

Managerial style: “I strongly believe in hiring good people and giving them clear roles and responsibilities as well as the leeway to do their jobs without being micromanaged. Giving people the latitude to do their jobs, while holding them accountable for results, takes full advantage of the incredible talents of our staff members.”

Dream job (not including present one): “I would love to be an astronaut, if they would lower the physical and mental requirements.”

Passion outside of work: “Duke basketball. Which is why the staff member who surreptitiously changed my screen saver to a shot of [University of North Carolina men’s basketball coach] Roy Williams cutting down the nets will pay so, so dearly.”

Most embarrassing moment: “Goofing around in high school, I fell off a parking barrier and broke my hip. I was the only sub-octogenarian in the hip traction ward.”

Most inspirational figure: “Cliché this year, but I’d say Abraham Lincoln. No other figure in our history was better able to bridge the gap between the aspirations of what our nation could be and the reality of where we were.”

Claim to fame: “They say fame is fleeting, and it certainly has managed to stay several steps ahead of me.”



After 10 years of working on Capitol Hill, there’s not much that John Wyatt has not seen.

“I’ve been through a presidential impeachment and several majority changes,” he said. “There’s really nothing left to surprise me, in the grand scheme of things. I just try to keep my expectations in check with how this town operates.”

Like many staffers, Wyatt first came to Capitol Hill as an intern. He worked for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. After graduating from Duke University, he started working in former Sen. Phil Gramm’s (R-Texas) office, where he met his current boss, Rep. Pete Olson (R-Texas).

For eight of the last 10 years, Wyatt has worked for or alongside Olson. Nevertheless, his boss’s candidacy took him by surprise.

“I was just as surprised as anybody,” he said. “But it did make sense. Pete’s always had a good sense of public service and this was a good expression of it.”

While content to work on Capitol Hill, Wyatt harbors a secret yearning for the skies above. He wants to be an astronaut.

“The idea of being able to explore what is genuinely the last frontier is just fascinating to me,” he said. “In Texas, we’re naturally people on the move, and to be able to press the boundaries of where human beings have gone, I think, would be incredible.”

But he realizes it may be a tad unrealistic.

“I don’t think they’re going to be putting me on the next shuttle launch,” he said.

Jordy Yager