Landrieu staffer finds virtual footing in D.C.


Dan Toffey’s “more of a campaign guy,” and Washington may not be as raucous as New Orleans, but the new staffer in Sen. Mary Landrieu’s (D-La.) office has handled his relocation to the capital with aplomb.

Toffey is the senator’s new-media coordinator and is in charge of “all communication that isn’t television and the press” — a job that includes maintaining Landrieu’s website and writing a weekly online newsletter that goes to approximately 500,000 recipients.

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“I sort of fill in the gaps of what the traditional media people do,” Toffey says.

The office is a good fit, he says, because Toffey’s interest in small business aligns well with the senator’s chairmanship of the Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee. And Landrieu’s passion for coastal restoration and hurricane recovery complements Toffey’s up-close experience with those issues when he was working on her 2008 reelection campaign in New Orleans.

Making the leap from conducting campaign research in a town where “people like to enjoy life” — and where Toffey cites “the food and the debauchery” as work distractions — to Washington was a tough decision for the 25-year-old.

“I was torn,” Toffey says of his relocation. “I like D.C. a lot, but I like campaigns. I’m a little more of a campaign guy.”
His interest in political campaigns began in high school, when a younger Toffey made it a point to stay abreast of political happenings.

Since then, “I never really changed trajectories,” he said.

Toffey followed his passion to Reed College in Portland, Ore., where he majored in political science and researched vote-casting techniques and consequences at the Early Voting Information Center, a nonpartisan academic research center based at his college.

He served as a research intern for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee before heading back to the Early Voting Information Center as associate research director after he graduated in 2007.

The job was a convenient next step, but Toffey said he had a gnawing urge to be involved in the political game rather than on the sidelines.

“I’ve always been more interested in participating in politics,” he says.

Though his new position takes him off the campaign trail, Toffey admits that office life in D.C. has some advantages.

“It’s nice to have government hours rather than campaign hours — 8 to 8 every day,” he says.

In his newfound free time, he’s been busy buying and beautifying a house in Columbia Heights — a task that includes painting, painting and more painting, he says.

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And if purchasing property seems like a move for someone who plans to settle down, Toffey acknowledges he is content in Landrieu’s office for the time being.

If he were to move on, Toffey says, he might like to delve back into campaigns.

But there’s one thing you won’t see Toffey do in the future. Researching campaigns has taught him that it takes a certain type of person to put up with the constant scrutiny of running for political office — and that he doesn’t fit the bill.

“Campaign work,” Toffey says with a laugh, “is the best way for somebody to realize they never want to run for office.”