The Root's Talented Ten: Marlon Marshall
Deputy White House Liaison to the State Department
Marlon Marshall captained one of the most bitter confrontations in the Democratic primary—the Nevada caucuses. But when his candidate, Hillary Clinton, conceded defeat, he went straight to work for the Obama campaign. Now, he's taken on the best of both worlds, working as a go-between for Obama's White House and Clinton's State Department.
Hometown: St. Louis, Mo.
Campaign Positions: Field Director (Hillary for President); General Election Director—Missouri (Obama For America)
Campaign Turf: Nevada, Ohio, Indiana (Hillary for President) Missouri (Obama For America)
New Washington Gig: Deputy White House Liaison to the State Department
According to Marlon Marshall, the best part of the 2008 campaign was its crossover style. The St. Louis native saw ancient barriers crumble: “There were African-American organizers in suburban parts of Missouri; we had Caucasians working in black parts of Missouri.” He would know—as a Clinton campaign refugee, he was welcomed into the Obama fold, despite leading one of the uglier confrontations of the Democratic primary season in Nevada. “This was the longest primary in American politics,” he reflects. “But I think going into the general, everyone was so well trained and that made people so much better—because in every state in the primary you gained invaluable experience.”
Marshall’s first stint in politics came as a local volunteer in Kansas in 2002 and 2003, after which he worked as a field organizer in Missouri and Ohio for John Kerry’s presidential campaign. In early 2007 he began working for Clinton, orchestrating her victories in the Nevada caucus and the Ohio and Indiana primaries. When the University of Kansas graduate joined Team Obama, however, he “came to play”—serving as General Election director for Missouri. There, he led “real community organizing. People who were invested not only in their candidate but in their communities, knocking doors and giving rides,” he recalls. “Not anything I’ve ever seen in my life before.”
Today, the bygones of the primary wars really are bygones: A quintessential bridge-builder, Marshall now works as a liaison between Obama’s White House and Clinton’s State Department. And he’s convinced that the class of 2008 will carry the torch further: “You’ll encounter people who will stay in the field, you’ll continue to see African Americans in high-level campaign field positions,” he says. “You’re going to start to see changes from the bedrock across the Democratic Party.”
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