Capitol Faces: Doug Thornell

Position: Communications director, assistant to the Speaker; senior adviser to Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.)

Age: 32

Hometown: Silver Spring


Marital status/children: Single; “one — Gus, my dog.”

Last job: National press secretary, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee

First job: A front-end loader at Hechinger, a hardware store in Maryland (“It’s kind of like a Home Depot.”)

Most unusual job: Emptying trashcans and separating out aluminum cans for a local Boys Club — “I only lasted a couple of days.”

Most embarrassing moment: “Forgetting my lines in a middle-school play. The longest 15 seconds of my childhood.”

Number of cups of coffee you drink per day: “More of a green tea or Coke Zero fan.”


Religion: Episcopalian

Favorite political TV show or movie: “Nixon” and “All the President’s Men.” “ ‘JFK’ was pretty entertaining.”

Most inspirational figure: President Obama.

Dream job (not including present one): “General manager of the Washington Redskins — maybe they are hiring after this last season.”

College: Cornell University

Graduate School: “Iowa Caucuses.”

Passion outside work: Hanging out with friends, college football, running on the beach.

Claim to fame: “Paul Thornell’s little brother.”

The first item of business for Doug Thornell is helping Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) get his new office as assistant to the House Speaker up and running.

“It’s kind of like starting a new business,” said Thornell, the former press secretary for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, in describing the balancing act between getting office computers set up while taking press calls and organizing news conferences.

Thornell’s new post represents a return to Capitol Hill and another entry in a long political résumé. He has worked for Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) and the Congressional Black Caucus as well as the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and the presidential campaigns of Al GoreAlbert (Al) Arnold GoreOn The Money: Centrists gain leverage over progressives in Senate infrastructure battle | White House rules out gas tax hike Democrats have turned solidly against gas tax Overnight Energy: Biden seeks to reassert US climate leadership | President to 'repeal or replace' Trump decision removing protections for Tongass | Administration proposes its first offshore wind lease sale MORE and Howard Dean. He described his experience as being in the right place at the right time.

“One thing led to another,” he said, before explaining that he did interrupt his career trajectory once to take a four-month break — after working at the DSCC for the 2004 election cycle — to live in Costa Rica.

“It was one of those times where I really needed to recharge the batteries,” Thornell said.

Once the logistics of his new office come together, Thornell said he is ready to help the House Democrats succeed.

He sees his mission “to assist in any way possible the new members and the sophomore Democrats in getting them off to a good start.”

“And then it’s working within the leadership and on developing and passing good policy that I think realizes a lot of the things that many of us have been working for for many years,” he said.