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VENTURA COUNTY NEWS

Ventura Native Named Cheney's Chief of Staff

August 16, 2000|MATT SURMAN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

A Ventura native and veteran Republican political aide has been chosen to serve as chief of staff for Dick Cheney during his vice presidential campaign.

Kathleen Shanahan, a 1976 graduate of Buena High School, still owns a home in Ventura and is a registered voter in Ventura County, though these days her work is more likely to keep her in Manhattan, Texas or Cheney's home state of Wyoming.

Shanahan is taking a leave of absence from her job as public relations executive at Paine Webber in New York to serve as right-hand woman to Cheney. It's a position that came only after phone calls with some political bright lights and a tete-a-tete with Cheney at the Republican convention.

"She's very calm, she's very on track, she's very intelligent," said Dirk Vande Beek, Cheney's press secretary. "She really matched [Cheney's] personality."

Shanahan said she had only met Cheney once before--on a golf course while working for then-Gov. Pete Wilson--but while at the Philadelphia convention she received several calls from him saying he was interested in having her join the campaign.

She agreed, and in the last two weeks moved out of her Manhattan apartment to Austin, hired an entire support staff, and today jets off to spend her 42nd birthday working with Cheney in Jackson Hole, Wyo.

"I was honored to be asked," she said. "I think [he and George W. Bush] are going to win. I think they've got the right message, the right skills and the right leadership qualities."

Back in Ventura, Shanahan's parents couldn't be more proud.

Their daughter will be handling the details of the day-to-day campaign--scheduling stops, coordinating with the Bush campaign and controlling access to the vice presidential candidate.

"Everybody who wants to get near Cheney has to go to her first," mother Shirley Shanahan said. "She said to me 'I've done it before. I know what do. It's just a lot of work and not a lot of hands.' "

Their daughter worked for President George Bush during his vice presidential tenure and was deputy campaign manager in Gov. Wilson's 1994 campaign. She was a state trade and commerce advisor.

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