With a career that already includes a stint in the White House and working on a presidential campaign, Lee Douglass “Dougie” Simmons has made that dream a reality. Simmons, the daughter of Tommy and Carla Simmons of Jasper, is currently the director of scheduling for U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas). While visiting with family last week, she took time to speak to members of the Rotary Club of Jasper during the group’s weekly meeting.
“I remember standing here and speaking to this group 20 years ago when I was the president of the Builders Club at Maddox Middle School,” she said. “It’s an honor to be here today. The is the community that I was raised in, and this community has done so much for me.”
After receiving her bachelor’s degree from the University of Alabama, Simmons started her career in Washington working in the mailroom for Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Alabama). By 2003, she had landed a job with President George W. Bush. She served his administration in several capacities until 2007. At one point, she was scheduler to the president.
“Working for President Bush was an amazing experience,” she said. “No one except a former president knows what it is like to sit in that chair.”
Simmons said she was amazed by the president’s ability to connect with people.
“He could connect with anyone — be it the Queen of England or the White House janitor,” she said. “I took my mom to the Oval Office and she said she was from Jasper. He said without flinching, ‘Walker County — there are good people there.’ He was so smart with how to connect. It was always a neat thing to watch him put the pieces of the puzzle together.”
While with the Bush administration, Simmons was also assistant to Al Hubbard, director of the National Economic Council.
“I learned so much about government and politics from Al Hubbard,” she said. “But the biggest thing he taught me was to always keep my sense of humor. He and Karl Rove always had a contest over who could do the best practical joke.”
Simmons shared a story about Rove leading Hubbard to believe his car had been stolen.
“Those two were always playing jokes on each other,” she said.
Before joining joining the Cruz staff earlier this year, Simmons most recently worked as director of events for the Republican National Committee, managing event planning for the Mitt Romney campaign.
“Working on a presidential campaign is exhausting, but probably one of the most thrilling experiences I’ve ever had,” she said. “It is amazing. There are thousands of people trying to get this one person elected to the highest office in the land. People have time, money and emotions invested into it.”
Simmons said the Romney loss was devastating.
“Losing in politics stinks — there is no worse feeling — it hurts you deeply,” she said. “I do think people remember you for your grace in losing, and that was a great lesson to learn. If I think about it long enough, I still tear up.”
Despite the emotions, Simmons didn’t rule out the possiblity of working on a future presidential campaign.
“It would depend on the person,” she said.
Simmons urged area students to always go for their dreams.
“I’m from Jasper. I wanted to work in politics, and that is what I do,” she said. “My dreams have come true. All students here can live out their dreams. It is possible, because I’m doing it.”