WASHINGTON -- As U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio begins his second term in office, the former Republican presidential candidate from Florida is relying on an Arkansan to serve as his chief of staff.
Clint Reed, 40, worked on Rubio's 2016 presidential campaign as well as his subsequent senatorial re-election campaign.
The Hot Springs native, a former Republican Party of Arkansas executive director and Republican National Committee regional political director, works out of Rubio's Capitol Hill offices.
In an interview, Rubio called Reed a "phenomenal" staff member and "a first-rate manager."
"I've worked with Clint now for a year and a half and I've put him in multiple difficult situations, and everywhere we've worked with him, he's done a great job, so we felt he had the right attributes for what we're looking to do here over the next six years," Rubio said in an interview.
Reed served as Rubio's Iowa campaign director, helping him finish a strong third in that state's 2016 Republican caucus. Later, he helped Rubio place second in South Carolina before heading to Florida, where the senator tried and failed to stop the eventual winner, President-elect Donald Trump.
Once that race was over, Reed guided Rubio's Senate race, serving as campaign manager.
After winning by more than 700,000 votes, Rubio decided to give Reed another challenge.
Reed started the job Jan. 3, the same day the 115th Congress convened.
Chief of staff "is a very significant job, especially in a large state [like] Florida with so many different constituencies and so many different issues to handle," Rubio said.
Reed, who declined a request for an interview, runs Rubio's offices in Orlando, Miami, Tampa, Jacksonville and Pensacola as well as Washington, D.C.
A 1999 graduate of Lyon College in Batesville, Reed majored in history. He later earned a master's of public administration degree from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.
Prior to joining Rubio, Reed worked as a partner at Little Rock's Impact Management Group, a group that does polling, political consulting, public relations and lobbying.
Terry Benham, the group's managing partner, said Reed will serve Rubio well.
"Clint's an exceptionally talented guy, probably one of the most talented political operatives in the country," Benham said. "Obviously this was a great opportunity for him and he has taken that position and he'll be a tremendous asset to Sen. Rubio."
In Washington, prominent Arkansans have applauded Reed's promotion.
"He's a good friend, so I'm excited about him being here. ... It's always good to have an Arkansan in a position of authority," said U.S. Sen. John Boozman, a Republican who defeated one of Reed's clients, former state Sen. Gilbert Baker, in the 2010 Republican primary.
Another key Republican, former U.S. Sen. Tim Hutchinson, said he's glad to see Reed advance.
"He was my personal assistant during my re-election campaign back in 2002, so we spent many, many hours together driving across the state of Arkansas," Hutchinson recalled.
"He's grown and matured and learned a lot since then, but even then, as a young man, he was smart and energetic, a good strategist. ... He was very consumed with the political process. Loved politics. Every aspect of it," Hutchinson said.
Reed's latest assignment, Hutchinson said, is a big deal. "He's in a very significant position now," he said.
Metro on 01/16/2017
Print Headline: Arkansan staff chief for Rubio in Florida