Hogan Gidley doesn’t see too many ‘Ole Miss Alumni’ bumper stickers on his drive home from Capitol Hill. The 1998 alumnus wrapped up his first day on the job as deputy White House press secretary last night, and he said it’s a great feeling to see one of those stickers in the driveway of the family with whom he’s staying.
After President Donald Trump hired him as a deputy press secretary, Gidley has made a home in the basement of two married Ole Miss alums in Washington, D.C.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders announced Tuesday night that Gidley would be joining current deputy secretaries Raj Shaw and Lindsay Walters on the White House press team. Yesterday was his first day of work in the West Wing.
“You can tell it’s filled with a bunch of special people who really just desire to make the country better,” Gidley said. “That’s really what this is all about.”
A South Carolinian for the past 13 years, Gidley is a tried and true Southerner. He came to Ole Miss from North Carolina and worked at a news station in Little Rock, Arkansas, after graduating. Four years later, Mike Huckabee, former governor of Arkansas, hired Gidley as his press secretary. Gidley said he’s had a passion for politics ever since.
At Ole Miss, Gidley majored in broadcast journalism, minored in political science and reported for NewsWatch.
“I wouldn’t be able to sniff the cut grass outside the gate at the White House without the journalism department at Ole Miss,” he said.
Even in Washington, Gidley said he can feel support from the Ole Miss community. He received a hearty “Hotty Toddy” when he was walking to lunch two days ago while wearing his favorite powder blue hat, and the first email he got Wednesday morning came from a 2014 alumnus who tends the White House grounds. The basement he’s staying in belongs to the sister of one of his Sigma Chi fraternity brothers.
“Word travels fast in such a close-knit family like the Ole Miss family,” Gidley said.
He said he landed the job thanks to years of campaign events and bus tours across the country. In 2012, he served as presidential candidate Rick Santorum’s communications director, and in 2016, he reunited with Huckabee as his campaign spokesperson. Huckabee is the father of Gidley’s new boss, Sanders.
“I think every experience in your life shapes where you are and shapes your future,” Gidley said.
Gidley’s life experiences are rooted in the South, so he brings something a little different to the Washington climate. He said an office does itself a great service by hiring people of different regions and diverse thought.
“I’m just so blown away by this whole experience right now,” he said. “A little kid from the South moving to D.C. and working here is such a privilege and an honor.”
Though he never planned to sit behind a White House desk, Gidley said he accepted the offer instantly.
“I weighed it over for about a nanosecond,” he said. “Before the offer, mid-sentence, I had yes on the tip of my tongue.”
Gidley said he wants to help people across the country and make Ole Miss proud in his new position. He’s played government roles before, but said the opportunity to work in the nation’s capital is truly special.
“Ole Miss is an amazing place that affords you every single opportunity and opens every door you could possibly imagine, and some that you can’t,” Gidley said.
Gidley said he hopes to continue his habit of attending at least one Ole Miss football game a year, as long as it lines up with both duck season and his new Washington job.