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Dayton hires well-connected deputy

Posted by: Rachel E. Stassen-Berger under Minnesota campaigns, Minnesota governor, Gov. Mark Dayton, Minnesota legislature, Minnesota state senators, Democrats Updated: December 18, 2013 - 3:44 PM

Updated with official confirmation from the governor's office.

Jennifer O'Rourke, chief of staff to Minneapolis Mayor R. T. Rybak, will join Gov. Mark Dayton office as a deputy chief of staff in January, according to sources in the governor's office the governor's office said.

O'Rourke, who left the Minnesota League of Cities as a lobbyist to join Rybak's staff last year, is married to Ken Martin, the DFL Party chair who had long worked with Dayton and his allies.

The hiring also continues the stream from Minneapolis to the governor's office. Dayton's chief of staff is Tina Smith, who was Rybak's chief of staff and managed Rybak's 2010 gubernatorial campaign.

O'Rourke, who will be making $109,286 at the governor's office, also worked for five years in the Minnesota Senate before she started with the Minnesota League of Cities.

"Jenn will be an outstanding addition to our team," Smith said in an email to Dayton's staff.  "Jenn’s experience, judgment and understanding of the nuances of policy and politics will be a great asset to our office, the Governor, the Lt. Governor, and his administration. "

Her hiring comes at a crucial time for Dayton.

Facing criticism over MNsure, tax increases and sex offender policy, he will face re-election next year and has only one more legislative session before he will appear before voters. He has seen his polling numbers dip and, nationally, President Obama is seeing some of the lowest polling numbers of his career.

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