Dan Mahr has been hired as a field staff representative and labor liaison for Oregon U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley. He succeeds Ed Hall, a retired firefighter who stepped down in May after serving seven years in that position.
Mahr, 36, was introduced to the labor movement in 2005 when he took a job as national field rep for Working America, a community affiliate of the AFL-CIO that reaches out to people who don’t have a union at work, but share the same economic principles that unions stand for. Working America has enlisted 3 million people nationwide.
After opening offices in New Mexico, Virginia, and Kentucky, Mahr was assigned to Portland in 2008 to work on the No on 64 campaign. Measure 64 was Bill Sizemore’s attempt to limit the ability of unionized public employees from participating financially in politics. The measure failed.
In that same election, Merkley defeated incumbent U.S. Sen. Gordon Smith, and Barack Obama was elected president.
“I loved it here (Oregon), so I decided to stay,” Mahr told the Labor Press. “I loaded all my stuff in the back of a truck and moved from Philadelphia to Portland. The American Dream.”
Working America had created a full time position in Portland, and in 2009 Mahr was hired as the Western Regional Director, covering Oregon, New Mexico, and Colorado.
In 2013, Mahr was hired as the enrollment director for the Oregon State Council of the Service Employees International Union. In that position he helped build a program to enroll individuals into health care plans through Oregon’s health care exchange, Cover Oregon. And even though the state’s exchange website never functioned, 10,000 people were able to enroll in health care plans.
Mahr served as campaign manager for the 2014 Ballot Measure 91, which legalized marijuana in Oregon. He also managed the 2013 Portland Children’s Levy renewal campaign.
A native of rural Iowa, Mahr graduated from the University of Iowa with a degree in political science.
As labor liaison, Mahr will be Merkley’s point person communicating with organized labor. He also will serve as Merkley’s field rep in Clackamas County.
Mahr can be reached at 503-326-3386 or at Dan_Mahr@merkley.senate.gov .