Heard on the Hill

Georgia Senate delegation has women in charge again

Megan Whittemore's promotion means both Sens. David Perdue and Johnny Isakson have female chiefs of staff

Sen. David Perdue, R-Ga., and his new chief of staff Megan Whittemore, seen here outside the Senate Republican Policy luncheons. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Georgia’s Senate delegation again has two women leading the way at the staff level.

That is the result of Megan Whittemore, who has worked for Sen. David Perdue since he was campaigning for the seat in 2014, being elevated to chief of staff.

“Megan is someone I can count on to get anything done. She has strong political instincts and extensive relationships across Capitol Hill,” Perdue said in a statement to Roll Call. “She is a steady hand under pressure and I know she will continue to lead our team to best serve the people of Georgia.”

Fellow Republican Sen. Johnny Isakson’s office has long been led by Joan Kirchner Carr. She has worked for the state’s current senior senator since he arrived in the Senate in 2005, and has served as chief of staff since 2013.

“More than 30 of the 100 U.S. senators now have a woman chief of staff. I am grateful to be part of this growing group and thrilled for the addition of Megan Whittemore as my partner for Georgia,” she said in a statement.

The Georgia Senate delegation previously had two female chiefs of staff when Sen. Saxby Chambliss was still in office.

Somewhat notably among chiefs of staff, both Kirchner Carr and Whittemore come from communications backgrounds.

“Joan has done an outstanding job as my chief for the past six years, and she and Megan will make a great team for Georgia,” Isakson said.

Before working for then-Sen. Zell Miller, D-Ga., Kirchner Carr was a journalist based in Georgia, with 14 years at the Associated Press — a tenure that included coverage of both Miller when he was the governor and Isakson during his career in the state Legislature.

And Whittemore worked up through the ranks of Republican communications on Capitol Hill, working for former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia before joining Perdue’s campaign operation after Cantor’s unexpected primary defeat. She was communications director and deputy chief of staff before becoming Perdue’s chief of staff.

Perdue recently hired Cherie Paquette Gillan as the new communications director. Like Whittemore, she previously worked behind-the-scenes at Fox News.

The vacancy at the top of Perdue’s official office is prompted by the ramping up of the senator’s 2020 re-election campaign. Derrick Dickey has shifted to a senior adviser role before moving back to the political operation full time to run the campaign.

“Derrick is one of the smartest political minds in Georgia, he led my first political campaign from day one and I wouldn’t be here without him,” Perdue said of Dickey.

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