Administrative staff, Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, Foreign affairs, Majority Leader, Northern Ireland, President pro tempore, Presidential campaign (1984), U.S. Senate, U.S. Senate culture
Mary Catherine “M.C.” Toker was born on August 13, 1959, in Miami, Florida, to Donald L. Toker and Mary Brennan Toker. Her father was a physician for the U.S. Public Health Service, and Mary Toker grew up in various locales around the world, including London, Hong Kong, and Japan. By the time she went to high school, her family had settled in Washington, D.C. After high school she attended Mount St. Mary’s College in Emmitsburg, Maryland, and pursued a degree in international studies. She interned with the Department of Defense, where she worked on various policies regarding U.S. relations with other countries. She went to Maine to work on the 1982 Democratic coordinated campaign, and in 1984 she worked on the Mondale presidential campaign in New England. She then returned to D.C. in 1985 and began to work for Mitchell’s Senate office as a legislative correspondent. She dealt with foreign affairs issues for Mitchell’s office and moved to the deputy president pro tempore office when Mitchell moved there. She was involved in reviewing the schedule of visitors to ensure that Mitchell personally met with as many Maine constituents as possible and that VIPs were handled appropriately. In 1988, she left the Senate office to work for General Mills, where she served as vice president of government relations at the time of this interview.
Interview includes discussion of: living abroad as a child; attending Mount St. Mary’s College; interning with the Department of Defense; working on the Maine Democratic coordinated campaign in 1982; working for the Mondale presidential campaign; working as a legislative correspondent; Star Wars (Strategic Defense Initiative); how correspondence in the Senate office was managed; out-of-state correspondence; the importance of handling the mail because Mitchell might know the letter writer; Mitchell’s role on the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee; becoming deputy president pro tempore; the esprit de corps of the Senate office; Monday morning legislative meetings; making sure that people from Maine who came to the Senate office got to see Mitchell; adjusting to the cramped office environment; Toker’s job search and how she ended up working for General Mills; Mitchell’s election to majority leader; issues that Toker deals with for General Mills; the role of lobbyists as stakeholders helping legislators; how Mitchell gathered information to prepare to deal with issues; anecdote about how Senator Durenberger came running down the hall to give Mitchell a congratulatory hug after he was elected to majority leader; Mitchell’s mentoring relationship to Tom Daschle; Mitchell’s priorities in terms of balancing his different roles; Toker’s surprise at Mitchell’s decision to step down; the Good Friday Agreement; running into Mitchell in Dublin; the effect that having worked for Mitchell has had on Toker’s subsequent career; how the job of lobbyists and the Senate have changed over the years; increasing partisanship in the Senate; and how Toker believes Mitchell should be remembered.
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