January 19, 2011

Wyden Begins 112th Congress Without Long-Time Chief of Staff

Washington, D.C.  After overseeing U.S. Senator Ron Wyden’s (D-Ore.) successful reelection to the U.S. Senate, Josh Kardon – Wyden’s long-time chief of staff, advisor and friend – announced that he will be retiring from his official role with the senator to focus on the consulting firm he began last year.  

“I can hardly think of a major decision that I have made over the last 18 years that didn’t in some way involve Josh Kardon’s advice,” said Wyden.  “Josh is the most gifted political mind that I have ever known and as his boss, I wish he’d work for me for another couple of decades.  As his friend, I look forward to seeing the great things he will do next.”

Kardon will be replaced as chief of staff by Jeff Michels, who has served as acting chief of staff for most of the past year.  Michels has served in a variety of capacities for Wyden since 1996, including director of the Washington office and deputy chief of staff under Kardon since 2001.

"I consider myself unbelievably lucky to have connected with Ron Wyden relatively early in my career and even luckier that he allowed me to apply my skills on behalf of so many important Oregon issues,” said Kardon.  “It has been an enormous honor to serve the best senator and staff in the United States Senate on behalf of the state I love.  I fully intend to keep looking for ways to contribute to my community and my state.  My successor and friend, Jeff Michels, is extremely smart and politically savvy and has prepared for this job for many years.  I have no doubt that the senator and his office will be in good hands for years to come."

Since Kardon first began working for then-Representative Wyden in 1992, he has had a hand in virtually every aspect of the Oregon’s senator’s career.  As campaign strategist, Kardon helped orchestrate Wyden’s 1996 election to the U.S. Senate and each of his subsequent reelection bids, including last year’s race in which Wyden bucked the national anti-incumbent trend to best his opponent by 18 percentage points.  

As Wyden’s chief of staff, Kardon forged a reputation as the senator’s point person on all things. He was instrumental in gaining federal approval for the Oregon health plan.  He led the fight against Congressional attempts to overturn Oregon’s Death with Dignity law.  He was front-and-center when it came to writing, passing and ultimately reauthorizing Wyden's “Secure Rural Schools and Community Self Determination Act” - commonly known as “county payments” - which has brought more than $2 billion to rural Oregon counties.  And he presided over Wyden's support for Oregon's burgeoning nanotechnology sector, which has helped put Oregon on the map as a leading center of nanotechnology innovation.

In recent years, Kardon’s expertise in natural resource law helped Wyden rise to the chairmanship of the Senate’s Subcommittee on Public Lands and Forests, which has primary jurisdiction for all lands and resources administered by the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service.  He managed Wyden’s efforts to establish permanent Wilderness protections for 170,000 acres of Wilderness on Steens Mountain, 128,000 acres around Mt. Hood, 24,000 acres on Soda Mountain and nearly 14,000 acres in the Copper Salmon area.  Kardon’s expertise and negotiating skills were also essential to Wyden’s historic effort to get Oregon environmentalists and timber executives to work together on forestry legislation for Oregon's eastside forests.

Kardon leaves the Senate as one of its longest-serving chiefs of staff to work full-time for Grant Park Strategies, a consulting firm which he started in Portland last year.