David Perdue hires 2 top campaign aides as senior staff

WASHINGTON -- As he prepares to become Georgia's junior senator in January, Republican David Perdue is putting a pair of people who helped get him here in key posts.

Derrick Dickey, a consultant who helped launch Perdue when nobody knew who the businessman was, will be Perdue's chief of staff.

Dickey was a press aide for former Gov. Sonny Perdue and handled communications strategy for his cousin David during the campaign.

"Senator-elect Perdue will be a great representative for the people of Georgia," Dickey wrote in an email. "I am honored to have this opportunity to help him in his service."

Perdue's communications director will be Megan Whittemore, who joined the Perdue campaign for the general election. Whittemore previously worked for former U.S. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor.

Dickey has been running Perdue's transition from candidate to senator and ended up with the top job. He will split his time between Atlanta and Washington, a similar setup to what U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson used to have with his former chief of staff Chris Carr.

After Sonny Perdue's first win in 2002, 20-something aides Dickey, Nick Ayers and Paul Bennecke were dubbed the "young guns" by this very newspaper. Ayers is a former head of the Republican Governors Association and a well-known Republican consultant. Bennecke -- David Perdue's general consultant this year -- is the incoming head of the RGA. This paragraph is an excuse to run the 2003 photo at right.

More Perdue hires will be announced in due course. In an interview Wednesday, outgoing U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss said Perdue was keeping some of his people:

"He's going to hire a number of my key people and he should. He needs the Washington experience to blend in. He needs to bring his own folks, but ... in this job in D.C. it needs to be a minimal bunch of new folks coming in, because in this town you can get run over if you aren't careful."

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