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Democratic Senate campaign arm taps new staff leaders

Democratic Senate campaign arm taps new staff leaders
© Greg Nash

The Democratic Senate campaign arm has tapped two veteran operatives to serve as its executive director and deputy executive director as the party looks to defend its razor-thin majority in the upper chamber next year.

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) announced Wednesday that Christie Roberts will serve as executive director and Jessica Knight Henry will be its deputy executive director and chief diversity and inclusion officer for the 2022 cycle. Roberts was most recently a DSCC senior adviser last year, and Knight Henry served as the group’s political and engagement director in 2020.

Prior to working at the DSCC, Roberts was Sen. Jon TesterJonathan (Jon) TesterLobbying world The Hill's Morning Report - Biden's infrastructure plan triggers definition debate Lawmakers say fixing border crisis is Biden's job MORE's (D-Mont.) campaign manager in his successful 2018 reelection bid, and Knight Henry served stints as the national development director for Supermajority, a women's advocacy group, and the executive director for the Congressional Black Caucus PAC.

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Theirs are the first hires announced by the chairmanship of Sen. Gary PetersGary PetersHillicon Valley: Biden nominates former NSA deputy director to serve as cyber czar | Apple to send witness to Senate hearing after all | Biden pressed on semiconductor production amid shortage Bipartisan lawmakers signal support for Biden cybersecurity picks The Hill's Morning Report - Biden: Let's make a deal on infrastructure, taxes MORE (D-Mich.), who will be tasked with protecting and expanding Democrats’ current 50-50 majority in the Senate. The party only has control of the upper chamber because of Vice President Harris’s tie-breaking vote.

“As we work to protect and expand our Democratic majority, we need our party’s most talented operatives at the helm guiding our strategic efforts to win these tough races,” Peters said in a statement. “I know from firsthand experience how Christie and Jessica helped lead the charge to flip the Senate last cycle, and I’m confident the incredible and diverse team they assemble will lead our Democratic incumbents and challengers to more success in 2022.”

Senate Majority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerPew poll: 50 percent approve of Democrats in Congress Former state Rep. Vernon Jones launches challenge to Kemp in Georgia Schumer lays groundwork for future filibuster reform MORE (D-N.Y.), a former DSCC chair himself who remains heavily involved in recruitment and other campaign efforts, praised Roberts and Knight Henry as “extraordinarily accomplished strategists who know how to build diverse coalitions and win challenging Senate races across the country.” 

“Their seasoned leadership and commitment to working with our grassroots allies to engage voters will put the DSCC in the strongest possible position, ensuring Senate Democrats can continue to deliver meaningful progress for the American people,” he said.

Democrats have no margin for error in protecting their Senate majority next year.

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They will have to defend Arizona Sen. Mark KellyMark KellyWall Street spent .9B on campaigns, lobbying in 2020 election: study The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Tax March - CDC in limbo on J&J vax verdict; Rep. Brady retiring Schumer lays groundwork for future filibuster reform MORE and Georgia Sen. Raphael WarnockRaphael WarnockDemocratic senators call on Biden to support waiving vaccine patents NBA names Obama alum to be director for social justice initiatives Wall Street spent .9B on campaigns, lobbying in 2020 election: study MORE, both of whom won in special elections and are expected to draw stiff GOP opposition. The party is expected to go on the offensive for open seats in North Carolina, Ohio and Pennsylvania and for Sen. Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonGOP acknowledges struggle to bring down Biden Pelosi: Dropping 9/11-style Jan. 6 commission an 'option' amid opposition Wisconsin state Treasurer Sarah Godlewski launches Senate bid MORE’s (R) seat in Wisconsin. Johnson has not yet said if he’s running for reelection. 

“Senate Democrats are fighting relentlessly to beat this pandemic, help working families get ahead, advance racial justice, and stand up to the GOP’s special interest corruption and dangerous conspiracy theories threatening our democracy,” Roberts said in a statement. "With so much on the line, I’m thrilled to be back at the DSCC leading the fight to strengthen our majority and I’m looking forward to doing everything possible to seize opportunities across this map.”

“Whether it’s addressing voting rights, making health care more affordable, combating climate change or tackling discrimination and inequality head on, our Senate majority is ready to deliver real progress for the American people,” added Knight Henry. “In partnership with our allies and grassroots supporters across the country, we can re-elect every one of our outstanding Democratic incumbents, flip even more Republican seats, and build a future that's more equitable for all of us.”