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Bob C.
Republican TN

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  • Tribute to Laura Herzog

    by Senator Bob Corker

    Posted on 2013-12-16

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    CORKER. Mr. President, I rise today to speak about an outstanding member of our staff, a friend, and a very special person who will soon leave the Senate--after almost 11 years of service--with her family to go to Nashville to begin the next exciting phase of their lives.

    I first met Laura Lefler when she was a staffer working in Senator Lamar Alexander's front office answering the phones and greeting visitors. I was in Washington to try to decide, like the Presiding Officer, whether running for the U.S. Senate was something I should consider. Seeing her smiling face and listening to her Tennessee accent certainly made me feel at home.

    Later, after I decided to run, we became involved in one of the most difficult races in the country in 2006. I was the only new Republican to make it through. Toward the end, with the race nationalized and dealing with all kinds of issues, a whole crew of folks descended upon our office to help us get across the top. One of those was young Laura Lefler, who helped us in our communications office. I think she was surprised by the fierceness of a campaign such as this. She took it all very personally--a sign of someone you want to be at your side.

    Then came the transition. Laura was the first person to open our office, and she helped us interview people and find our way through the daunting task of opening a new Senate office. When it came down to deciding who would lead our communications office, we had gotten down to people who had been here and done it for a long time and Ms. Laura Lefler. She always said I was concerned about whether she should really be the person, and, in fairness, now that she is leaving, I will say I was. She was young. She had never done this before. Certainly I had never done this before. And I wondered whether we needed someone who was more seasoned and had different experiences. Without question, hiring Laura to lead our communications office is one of the best decisions I have ever made in my life. I cannot imagine the last 7 years without Laura in our office, and I know the rest of our staff feels the same way.

    Laura has been instrumental to our office in every way. No doubt, she has done an outstanding job as a communications director. I think every person in our office, those in other offices, and the media people throughout the Capitol and throughout Tennessee would all speak to the fact that she has been a professional, she has been endearing and a responsible communications director.

    She has also been instrumental in other ways, such as always ensuring that I have never forgotten where I came from. She has that knack when we are making a decision over a tough vote to slip in toward the end and sit down privately and express her own feelings--something I value greatly.

    As time went on, I realized something was different about other Senate offices. Most Senate offices center around the U.S. Senator. Our office has never been that way; it has always revolved around Laura.

    It began with this guy named John Herzog, whom she later married. Was he going to end up having the kind of job that would allow him to know he could support a family? And then when he did, was he going to ask her to marry him? This went on for months and months.

    Then there was the wedding after he asked. I do not think I have ever seen so many photographs of dresses and flower arrangements, nor have others in our office.

    Then came the decision about their home purchase. Where would it be? What would it look like? How far of a drive would it be? You know the drill.

    Then came young Jack. His hair was so perfect when he was born, he instantly was dubbed ``the Weatherman.'' Then, of course, which daycare would he attend? Would it be close enough? Would she continue to be a communications director and a good mom? As we all knew would be the case, she has been exceptional at both.

    Then more of the same in Tennessee. I remember a townhall meeting in Loudon, TN, where over 1,000 people showed up at the gymnasium--a place where Laura Lefler had been the valedictorian. I remember walking in with such excitement that so many people would be there at this townhall meeting to hear me discuss the big issues facing our Nation, but, not surprisingly, the first thing that was said [[Page S8832]] when I walked in the door was, ``Where's Laura?'' Now, as we all knew would happen at some point, it is time for them to move on to the next phase in their lives. While we have all been a part of her life and lived the ups and downs, she has been a part of all of ours. We will miss her greatly. She knows full well that I would gladly continue to be second fiddle in our office if she would stay. But we all know it is time for her and John, with their wonderful son Jack and possibly others to come, to go back to Tennessee, time to go back and be a part of other people's lives the way they have been a part of ours.

    She has made life better for all of us over the last 7 years. Her big smile and ability to take ribbing--and also dish it out--have made each day so much more enjoyable. She is a consummate professional, always seeking perfection but with the ability to make it fun along the way. We will miss her, but we are so happy for her, for John, and for Jack. We are happy for her mother, who lives just across the line in Kentucky, and her dad, who lives right up the road in Loudon. We know Nashville will be a much better place with the Herzogs there. We look forward to visiting them often, and we all hope they will continue to involve us all in their wonderful life, their story, and the evolution of the Herzog family in Tennessee.

    With that, I yield the floor.

    The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Maryland.

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