Janet Grissom, former aide to Mitch McConnell, dies

Minority Leader Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.)
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Janet Grissom, a former chief of staff and campaign manager to Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), died over the weekend, the senator announced Monday.

“Over the weekend, our nation lost an outstanding public servant, and I lost a dear friend of nearly 40 years. Janet Gardner Mullins Grissom was a proud daughter of Louisville, a trailblazing government leader and my very first chief of staff here in the Senate,” McConnell said on the Senate floor Monday.

Grissom, who died at the age of 73, was 29 years old when she came to Washington, McConnell said.

He said he had to convince Grissom to take the job of running his first senate campaign in 1984 after she left Washington and said she came on as his chief of staff after the win.

“Janet had smarts. She had tenacity. And she had a communications style that one might delicately call direct. Our hometown newspaper would later report that she had ‘a salty tongue,'” he said. “That was putting it mildly. She was a riot. She was a force of nature. And these qualities fueled a meteoric rise.”

He also said Grissom was the first woman to serve as chief of staff to two senators, adding, “You couldn’t imagine a better friend to have in your corner.”

After serving as McConnell’s chief of staff, she went on to work for then-Vice President George H.W. Bush. She also later worked for Bush when he was president.

“Janet Mullins Grissom built a prototypical Washington, D.C., powerhouse resume by being a thoroughly untypical Washington person,” McConnell said. “Brilliant and accomplished, yes — but tough as nails, and a little rough around the edges in the best ways. That same spine of steel helped Janet hold a serious illness at bay for a number of years.”

“And up to just a few days ago, she was still in the fray. Still tweeting up a storm on politics and media criticism. Relishing the good fight to the end,” he added.

He also noted that one of her grandsons used to work in his office as a speechwriter.

He concluded his floor speech by offering condolences to Grissom’s family, including her husband, her daughter and her two grandsons.

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