Marcus Mason, a top transportation lobbyist, has always had an itch to get places fast.
At 20, he started his own photography business. At 21, he was tapped to run the congressional campaign of Walter Tucker, a Democrat then serving as mayor of Compton, Calif. After Tucker won, the 22-year-old Mason became the youngest chief of staff on Capitol Hill. By his early 30s, he was the No. 2 lobbyist at Amtrak.
Now 36, Mason is a newly minted contract lobbyist with the Madison Group, where he is busy representing the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway. He is also pouring his energy into helping other blacks experience the sort of rapid rise that he has had in Washington.
A former college football player who pens spy novels in his spare time, Mason isn’t one to sleep much. He says he tries to bring the energy of a political campaign to his lobbying work.
When the late Rep. Juanita Millender-McDonald (D-Calif.) took over Tucker’s seat, Mason became her co-chief of staff. The congresswoman’s recent death dealt a blow to Mason, who considered her a second mother. Mason’s own parents died of cancer within months of each other, and Millender-McDonald spoke at his mother’s funeral. The two women were very similar and possessed the same ethos of public service, he said.
As a former staffer to two Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) members, Mason acknowledged that his clout with lawmakers may have grown with the Democratic takeover and the ascension of several CBC members to prominent committee chairmanships. But he insisted that he is used to working with members from both parties because rail issues break along regional rather than partisan lines.
Aside from Rep. Steven LaTourette (R-Ohio) and former Rep. Jack Quinn (R-N.Y.), Mason singled out Senate Minority Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.) as a strong supporter of the rail industry with whom he has worked closely.more » « less