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Longtime Democratic communications chief Cardetti moves on; Bertelson moves in

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, May 18, 2010 -  Jack Cardetti,  communications director for Gov. Jay Nixon and, earlier, for the Missouri Democratic Party, announced this afternoon that he was resigning to become a private political/public relations consultant.

As of June 2, Cardetti will be replaced by Christine Bertelson, the former editorial-page editor for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch who joined Nixon's administration late last year.

Although only in his early 30s, Cardetti is the most veteran -- and arguably the most recognizable -- Democratic spokesman in Jefferson City. He began work in state government 10 years ago as a communications assistant to then-Attorney General Nixon. "My first day out out college," Cardetti said in a brief interview.

In a statement, Cardetti said that as of early June, he will be leaving state government "to take a position with Hilltop Public Solutions. I will be opening up a Jefferson City office for the firm, where I will be performing public relations and political consulting for their clients, including Gov. Nixon."

Cardetti effusively praised the governor: "Gov. Nixon took office during very difficult times for Missouri families, but because of his strong leadership, Missouri is poised to lead this country’s recovery. I am humbled to have been able to play a small role in that effort, and I look forward to this new opportunity."

Cardetti said in the interview that Hilltop is working on Nixon's campaign. Hilltop already has strong ties to the governor; the head of the firm's St. Louis office is Ken Morley, who was Nixon's campaign manager in 2008.

Cardetti long has been successful in maneuvering the difficult tightrope that political spokesmen must walk. He is very upfront with reporters, mincing no words when he offers his unsolicited opinion of what he thinks of their latest story, or if he thinks they're missing the boat. But he also has done a great job of responding to press inquiries and is usually affable even while venting. And he doesn't hold grudges.

Bertelson joined Nixon's staff late last year as the deputy director for the Recovery Act.

As her bio notes: "Before joining state government, Bertelson had a long career at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, where she was a feature writer; environmental news reporter; prize-winning metro columnist; and deputy managing editor. She was the first woman in the newspaper’s history to serve as editor of the editorial page, a post she held for a decade. Prior to working at the Post-Dispatch, she covered science and medicine as a staff reporter at the Burlington Free Press in Burlington, Vt., and agriculture and consumer affairs at The Capital Times in Madison, Wis."

Sam Murphey, currently Nixon's deputy press secretary, will become the deputy communications director.  Murphey, a 2006 graduate of Truman State University, served as deputy press secretary during Nixon's campaign for governor, and then was press secretary for his post-election transition team.

Scott Holste will remain as Nixon's press secretary. Holste has served as Nixon's press secretary or communications director since 1994.

Jo Mannies has been covering Missouri politics and government for almost four decades, much of that time as a reporter and columnist at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She was the first woman to cover St. Louis City Hall, was the newspaper’s second woman sportswriter in its history, and spent four years in the Post-Dispatch Washington Bureau. She joined the St. Louis Beacon in 2009. She has won several local, regional and national awards, and has covered every president since Jimmy Carter. She scared fellow first-graders in the late 1950s when she showed them how close Alaska was to Russia and met Richard M. Nixon when she was in high school. She graduated from Valparaiso University in northwest Indiana, and was the daughter of a high school basketball coach. She is married and has two grown children, both lawyers. She’s a history and movie buff, cultivates a massive flower garden, and bakes banana bread regularly for her colleagues.

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