Jamal Simmons to be named Harris communications director

Jamal Simmons, a longtime top Democratic communications aide, will be tapped as communications director to Vice President Harris, sources tell The Hill.

The announcement is expected to be made on Thursday, the sources say.

The move is part of a communications reset for Harris after a rocky first year for the vice president, which included a rash of negative headlines and departures of senior communications staff.

Simmons, a Michigan native who is widely respected in Democratic circles, has been involved in national politics since the Clinton administration. He went on to serve as deputy communications director for the Gore presidential campaign.

He’s also served as an aide to former Sen. Bob Graham (D-Fla.) and former Democratic presidential candidate Wesley Clark and was chief of staff to former Rep. Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick (D-Mich.). 

Simmons also formerly worked for Hill.TV. 

Simmons is expected “to really change things up,” according to one source familiar with the move.

Matt McKenna, who served as a longtime adviser to former President Bill Clinton and has known Simmons for more than 20 years, said he has the right skill set for the job.  
“What impressed me about him back then — and something he is only better at today — was his ability to not just listen to everyone in the room but his ability to have the right people in the room every time, even if it didn’t seem like it first glance,” McKenna said. “Vice President Harris is very lucky to have him.” 
Karen Finney, a longtime Democratic strategist and commentator, said bringing Simmons into the vice president’s office is “an excellent move for a host of reasons.”

“Jamal has a unique array of expertise that will be invaluable to the vice president and the White House,” Finney said. “Having worked in media, working as a consultant, he’s done campaigns, he’s worked on the Hill. He’s a seasoned communicator and his professional career is very diverse and he has a unique expertise that he brings. It gives him a lot of resources to draw upon.”

“There are very few of us who have worked on both sides of the microphone,” she added. “It’s just invaluable.”

This story was updated at 3:25 p.m.
Tags Bill Clinton communications media vice president White House staffing

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