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Already one Westerner gets job in Obama admin

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Ray Ring | Nov 18, 2008 10:41 AM

Jim Messina -- born in Denver, raised in Boise, with a University of Montana bachelor's degree in political science -- will be a deputy chief of staff in Barack Obama's White House.

Messina worked his tail off to get there. He was chief of staff for Obama's campaign, and his political experience stretches from Alaska to New England.

Messina had some interesting things to say, when he and I did a Q&A in High Country News during the campaign, under the headline: Obama's Western ace in the hole.

Among other other things, I asked Messina:

You didn't go to an Ivy League college as a path into the political elite, you took a different path -- and got to where you are by hard work?

Messina: I believe that politics is truly a merit-based world. If you work hard and you're honest -- and you keep winning -- you'll get to rise. (In my early political jobs) I was the kid who was the first in the office and the last to leave. And it's still kind of true. ... I've been chief of staff to three famous members of Congress and I work for a fourth, and when (each) hired me, I don't think any of them even asked me where I went to school -- they just asked me what I had done, and I love that.

If you'd like more on Messina's path to the White House, the Idaho Statesman reported on his growing-up in Boise, and the Missoula Independent reported his early career toiling in Montana politics.

Messina loves 15-hour political workdays, and, the Statesman adds, his other loves are running, fly-fishing and his dog.

Messina told me that with his all-consuming work, he has trouble maintaining any social life, especially girlfriendships. He said, "I gotta get better at that part." Not sure he'll be able to do that in the White House, where the work will likely go 24/7.

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