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Raphael Chavez-Fernandez. (Photo: U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs).

Chavez-Fernandez is Gallego’s new chief of staff

Ex-Menendez staffer leaving Biden administration to run the congressional office of a national rising star

By David Wildstein, November 30 2022 10:10 am

A New Jerseyan who served as a top aide to U.S. Senator Bob Menendez has been named chief of staff to Rep. Ruben Gallego, a four-term congressman from Arizona and a rising star in national Democratic politics.

Raphael Chavez-Fernandez served as Menendez’s state director and deputy campaign manager of the senator’s 2018  re-election bid before leaving to become Deputy Assistant Secretary for Intergovernmental Affairs at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

“Raphael is a proven leader who has done incredible work at all levels of government,” Gallego said. “His tenure both serving our nation’s veterans by advising Secretary McDonough at the VA and leading Senator Menendez’s state operations proves he is up to the challenge of helping deliver solutions for Arizonans.  Our team is fortunate to have him as our Chief of Staff.”

Chavez-Fernandez’s departure comes four months after another New Jerseyan, embattled former Motor Vehicle Commission chief Sue Fulton, joined his office as Assistant Secretary.

A U.S. Marine combat veteran who served in Iraq, Gallego won the open seat of Ed Pastor, a Democrat who retired after 23 years in the House.  Pastor won the seat in a 1991 special election following the death of Morris Udall.

“It is an honor to come back to Congress and work for Representative Gallego, a proud veteran, effective legislator, and staunch advocate who has fought tirelessly for hardworking Arizonan families,” stated Chavez-Fernandez. “I can’t wait to get to work with this talented team and keep fighting for all communities in Arizona.”

Chavez-Fernandez also worked at Mercury, a New Jersey public affairs firm.

“Raphael is one of the most hard working, loyal and astute public servants I’ve worked with,” said Mo Butler, a Mercury partner and U.S. Senator Cory Booker’s longtime political advisor.  “These traits will serve him and Congressman Gallego well in his new role as chief of staff.”

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