Eric Cantor’s press shop has a leader again.
Veteran GOP operative Doug Heye, who most famously served as the communications director at the Republican National Committee during Michael Steele’s tenure there, will return to Capitol Hill to head the House majority leader’s messaging operation. Heye is a constant fixture as a GOP talking head on national cable shows, and he utilizes a down-home style often injecting WWE references into his punditry.
Heye replaces Brad Dayspring, who left Cantor’s Capitol Hill staff last month to work for Cantor “Young Guns” issue advocacy organization. A Democratic aide familiar with both men told NBC News, “While Dayspring was a pitbull for Cantor who liked to agitate, Heye is a calmer still effective hand. He’s less about conflict and more about making his boss look the best.”
More importantly, many on Capitol Hill feel Heye’s signing will usher in a stronger more unified bond with Speaker John Boehner’s press team. At times since the GOP took back the House majority, there has been a well-documented rift between the Boehner and Cantor camps about messaging on major issues. A GOP source who asked not to be quoted so that person could speak candidly about the hiring said, “Heye at Cantor’s office will help foster a close and effective working relationship [with Boehner’s office.] Doug is a talented veteran who brings valuable communications experience and perspective to the job.”
Heye’s presence will further continue the softening of Cantor’s public image, which took a hit when many blamed him for the collapse of the “grand bargain” debt deal between Boehner and President Obama last summer. Recently, Cantor has pushed bipartisan bills through the House to help small businesses and ban insider trading by members of Congress.