Jessica DeLoach Looking for Local Leaders, Including One at Home

Jessica DeLoach Looking for Local Leaders, Including One at Home
Jessica DeLoach

National politics, meet the Ginger Avenger.

After eight months as communications director for the Arkansas Democratic Party, political analyst and TV commentator Jessica DeLoach has a new job in Washington with The NewDEAL, a network promoting progressive policies and candidates nationwide.

As its political director, she’s splitting time between the state and national capitals, bare-knuckling her way through the new direct American Airlines flights from Clinton National to Reagan National and back again.

“I’m a chicken in the air,” she said by phone the other day. “I keep telling myself it’s just two and a half hours.”

As the Ginger Avenger, one of her Twitter nicknames (@jessicaxan) and a nod to her red hair, she’s anything but a chicken in criticizing Donald Trump, and no pushover on local matters, either. “I’m not giving up that avenger title any time soon,” she said, laughing. “I’ll listen and be agreeable, but I won’t back down about things that are important.”

Just last week, she tweeted about Sinclair Broadcast Group’s pro-Trump push on airwaves nationwide, and how the TV chain directs its journalists, including those at KATV in Little Rock, to read a statement parroting Sinclair’s diligence and “balance” in an age of “fake news.”

“This is disgusting and this is our reality,” DeLoach tweeted, sharing a professor’s dismay at a “chorus of local news reporters reading, word for word, from the same Sinclair script to attack the media and defend the president.”

DeLoach didn’t disguise her disgust even though she’s been a contributor to “Talk Business & Politics” on KATV.

(Sinclair is deep into a $3.9 billion bid for Tribune Media, which would add more than 30 stations to its 190 or so, making the combined enterprise the largest single owner of TV stations in the nation. KATV would be joined by KFSM, KSNW and WREG in Memphis, giving Sinclair a news “pipeline across the state,” as KATV News Director Nick Genty put it.)

On other topics, DeLoach is just as spirited. When Ben Shapiro of tweeted that a Disney princess is needed to teach feminist writers statistical literacy, DeLoach replied, “I would like a magic wand to heal all fragile men.”

She later said that was not her greatest Twitter moment.

Still, it reflects the kind of zeal that DeLoach brings to NewDEAL, which just turned 7 years old. “Our goal is to use our network of pro-growth progressives to expand opportunities for all Americans. We’re engaging with pragmatic progressives at every level of government.”

The group doesn’t pour money into races, she explained, but rather finds up-and-coming public officials, supporting them and their ideas. “At a time when people are down on politics or feeling it’s impossible to get anything done in government, it’s nice seeing that it doesn’t have to be that way.”

(Though she uses DeLoach in politics, Jessica’s married name, Sabin, may see it soon on the ballot. Her husband, Warwick Sabin, is running for Little Rock mayor. But more on that later.)

DeLoach will continue as a rare liberal voice on Fox News programs like Tucker Carlson’s, but she “made a point of stepping away a little bit while I get settled in my new role.” She had to give up KARK’s “Political Plays,” where she and co-host Bill Vickery reviewed on the week’s political headlines at 6:45 a.m. on Fridays. Michael John Gray, the state’s Democratic Party chairman, is splitting DeLoach’s old role with Michael Cook, president of Cook Consulting and former chief of staff to Lt. Gov. Bill Halter.

DeLoach, 33, says she’s inspired by today’s political youth, though she fears polarization and loathes the recent verbal attacks on the gun violence activists who survived the Florida school shooting. “It’s heartbreaking to watch adults denigrating young people, but it hasn’t stopped them. They’re motivated, and they realize this isn’t a partisan issue.”

She said “it’s beautiful” that politics is inspiring young people. “They can change history. It’s remarkable how young the people were who wrote this country’s founding documents.”

Which brings us back to a young local leader named Sabin, who met DeLoach when he was speaking at the Clinton School of Public Service and she was a graduate student there. “I cannot begin to tell you how excited I am for Little Rock [that Sabin is a mayoral candidate]. He’s a pragmatist, a problem solver, and to me he defines what a public servant should be. I couldn’t be more proud of how hard he works every day.”