Begich announces four major staff selections

Sean Cockerham | Tribune Media Services

Mark Begich is putting together his U.S. Senate staff and meeting with senators, but still hasn't heard from Ted Stevens since winning his seat in the election last month.

Begich, who just returned from his first trip to Washington, D.C., since the election, on Thursday named key staffers, all of whom worked for him in his current job as mayor of Anchorage. They include David Ramseur, who is Begich's chief of staff in the mayor's office and will hold the same title in the Senate office. Ramseur has been meeting with his counterpart in Stevens' office.

"I have not met with Senator Stevens (but) our staffs have had great conversations in the transition process," Begich told reporters in Anchorage on Thursday.

Julie Hasquet, who was named Begich's press secretary, later said Begich and Stevens never spoke either on the phone or in person after the election. "Mark actually called him a couple days after the race was final, left a message and there was never a call back," she said.

Stevens' office did not have an immediate comment on Thursday. Begich, a Democrat who will be sworn in Jan. 6, has met with the rest of Alaska's congressional delegation: Republicans Lisa Murkowski and Don Young.

Begich named four staffers Thursday. Ramseur, in addition to being Begich's top adviser in the mayor's office, was chief of staff for Begich in the mayor's office and for Tony Knowles, when Knowles was in the governor's office. Ramseur was also the press secretary for then-Gov. Steve Cowper from 1986 until 1990.

Hasquet will be based in Anchorage. She was Begich's press secretary in the mayor's office before taking the same job with his Senate campaign. Hasquet said the plan is to hire a D.C.-based deputy press secretary as well as a communications director for the Senate office.

Begich also said Leslie Ridle would be his deputy chief of staff, overseeing constituent relations out of the D.C. office. She handled Begich's constituent relations in the mayor's office and did the same thing for Knowles when he was governor.

Susanne Fleek-Green will be Begich's Alaska state director, based in Anchorage.

She worked for Begich in the city office of economic and community development before joining the campaign. Fleek-Green is a former climate change program officer for the Alaska Conservation Foundation and previously worked for Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy, the American Farmland Trust and the U.S. Department of Interior.

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