“WHAT? Dan Popkey is going to work for Raul Labrador?”
That was the typical reaction when Popkey, the face of the Idaho Statesman, announced that he was leaving to accept the position as Labrador’s press secretary. Popkey, the most talented political writer in the state, will now be in charge of defending Labrador’s tea party positions and organizing photo-ops with the likes of Rand Paul and Ted Cruz.
The move seems strange, given the fact that Labrador seemingly has gone through more press secretaries than toilet paper in his four years in office. But I can understand Popkey’s thinking. At 55, he was stuck in a high-stress job that was going nowhere.
I’ve seen him tied up in knots, and that’s hell on a person’s blood pressure over time. I’ve seen him at meaningless governor’s photo-op ceremonies, just so he could ask Otter one question without going through the spin doctors. He’s working in an environment that it common to so many newspapers, where layoffs and unpaid furloughs are a way of life. Just about everybody who works for a newspaper these days – any newspaper – is being asked to do more with fewer resources, and Popkey was no exception.
With Labrador, Popkey can work at a more manageable pace and have a better sense of job security. There’s always a chance that Labrador will run for the Senate, or governor’s office, but my guess is he won’t go for those unless he’s sure he can win. In the meantime, Labrador has a safe seat and the national media loves him. He could stay in Congress for as long as Popkey wants to work.
“It’s bittersweet to leave journalism, my first love, but I’m thrilled with the opportunity to apply what I’ve learned to help advance our state’s priorities in Washington,” Popkey said in a statement.
Actually, it won’t work that way at all. Popkey’s job – in fact, his only job – is to serve a congressman who has a strong will, even stronger convictions and an ego the size of Texas. This is no criticism of Labrador. From the beginning, he has known where he is going and how to get there. (more…)