Broderick Johnson came to national attention when his wife, Michele Norris, a prominent National Public Radio anchor, announced that she was taking a leave from her anchor role at the network’s flagship show, All Things Considered. Norris stepped aside to avoid a potential conflict of interest after Johnson, a successful Washington lawyer and entrepreneur, signed on as a senior adviser to President Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign.
Johnson — who will work alongside David Axelrod, Obama’s senior strategist and longtime adviser, and Jim Messina, the 2012 campaign manager — is a seasoned political operative. He served in senior roles in the Clinton White House, acting as the president’s principal liaison to the House of Representatives. He was an adviser to John Kerry’s 2004 campaign for the White House and was a partner at Bryan Cave, a prominent national law firm. “Broderick’s sharp instincts and seasoned political judgment are a welcome addition to our campaign,” says Messina. “He will play a vital role.”
The announcement of Johnson’s appointment set off a minor media backlash, especially because the campaign played down his earlier role as a lobbyist at Bryan Cave. During Obama’s first presidential campaign, he had vowed that lobbyists would not run his White House and refused to accept campaign contributions from K Street. Johnson’s role will be limited to the campaign, not the president’s legislative agenda.
Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.), chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, answered the critics with strong support for Johnson. “This is an excellent hire and one that will assuredly pay dividends. Johnson’s work as a Washington attorney and legislative adviser means that he understands the landscape of Washington. The fact that he recently recused himself of all ties to his lobbying firm before accepting a role with the president’s team is a testament to his high ethical standards.”
I interviewed Broderick Johnson to get his insights on the campaign ahead, on being the husband of a successful black woman and serving the nation’s first African-American president.
Source: The Root | Edward Wyckoff Williams