This afternoon, I stumbled across a 2008 article I hadn’t read before, a Politico profile of Drey Samuelson.
Samuelson ran Johnson’s initial 1986 House campaign before becoming his chief of staff, first while Johnson’s 10 years in the House, and then for his 14 years in the Senate. He continues as Johnson’s chief of staff to this day.
As Johnson rose through the ranks, now chair of the powerful Senate Banking Committee, Samuelson rose along with him. Managing a Senate office is a huge, complex job, with dozens and dozens of people underneath you.
The Politico profile talks about that, and Samuelson’s role when Johnson was struck by his brain hemorrhage in 2006. But it’s most fascinating for its role highlighting an unusual, powerful and emotional element from Samuelson’s past:
When Sen. Tim Johnson (D-S.D.) was struck by a brain hemorrhage on Dec. 13, 2006, his chief of staff immediately became one of the most powerful staffers on Capitol Hill.
You may already know that part of Drey Samuelson’s story.
What you don’t know: Samuelson authored one of the most emotionally raw pieces of personal memoir ever written by a person on Capitol Hill.
That memoir, published under a pseudonym in 1986, tells the story of a tragic and terrifying incident he experienced as a young man. It’s “an aching and open recollection of a man who, years earlier, had been forced to witness the rape of a close friend.”
As part of the story, Samuelson met one of the perpetrators, a “surreal and mercurial encounter” that left him “feeling alternately enraged, sad, empathetic and emasculated.”
There’s also plenty of stuff about the business of being Johnson’s chief of staff, which isn’t as emotionally powerful but is still fascinating. Plus a general profile that gives you the sense of one of the most important behind-the-scenes people in South Dakota politics and government.
Read the whole thing here.