Nancy Pelosi losing key political aide

John Lawrence, the long-time chief of staff for House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), is leaving Capitol Hill.

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A 38-year veteran of the Capitol corridors, Lawrence began his Washington career with Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.), then bounced around several committees before landing in Pelosi's office in 2005, just ahead of her rise to the Speakership following the 2006 elections.

The New Jersey native was Pelosi's chief liaison with the White House, placing him at the forefront of the Democrats' efforts – largely successful – to enact the ambitious agenda of President Obama, including healthcare reforms and the 2009 economic stimulus bill.

Pelosi said Thursday that he'll be missed.

"On behalf of my colleagues, I want to thank John Lawrence for his 38 years of service to the House of Representatives," Pelosi said in a statement. "Few staff members have ever had the impact that John has had on so many laws that have been enacted in his years in my office as Speaker and as Democratic Leader, and with Chairman George Miller."

Filling Lawrence's spot will be Nadeam Elshami, a 21-year veteran of Capitol Hill who began in the Senate mailroom, moved between several Democratic offices in the Senate and House, and in 2007 found his way to Pelosi's camp, where he currently serves as chief spokesman. 

"I know my colleagues in the House Democratic Caucus will benefit from his leadership as he transitions to chief of staff," Pelosi said of Elshami.

In the shake-up, senior adviser Diane Dewhirst will take on the role of deputy chief of staff, while George Kundanis will remain deputy chief of staff, "with an expanded role for legislative and Member responsibilities," according to Pelosi's office.

Drew Hammill, now the deputy communications director, will replace Elshami as lead spokesman and senior adviser.

Setting the changes in motion, Lawrence is scheduled to step down effective Feb. 1.