Political Notebook

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Donnelly staffer takes North Carolina job

U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly’s press secretary has left his post for a job on the staff of the North Carolina Democratic Party.

Benjamin Ray joined Donnelly’s staff last year after Donnelly, a Democrat from St. Joseph County and then a member of the U.S. House, defeated Republican state Treasurer Richard Mourdock in the Nov. 6 election. Ray had been press secretary for the Indiana Democratic Party since July 2011 and previously worked for a Senate campaign in Kentucky and for the South Carolina Democratic Party.

“Even though I’ve found myself on the road again, I’ll always have a soft spot for the Hoosier state,” Ray said in an email last week to Indiana media.

He said he had enjoyed working with “the incredibly talented and dedicated teams” at the Indiana Democratic Party and Donnelly’s office.

Ray is going to a state similar in partisan makeup to the one where he had worked. North Carolina has large Republican majorities in its two state legislative houses and congressional delegation, plus a Republican governor and lieutenant governor – as does Indiana. But Democrats hold six of eight other statewide offices in North Carolina, while they occupy just one of five in Indiana.

Elizabeth Shappell, Donnelly’s communications director, said Monday she will assume the duties of press secretary until the position is filled.