As president of government relations for Bravo Group, Dennis Walsh appears to check all the boxes for the sort of person you’d expect to find pulling the levers of legislative change in the state’s capital city. He has a nice downtown office with a view from a hip Second Street building that is part of Harrisburg’s past, the twisting industrial steel staircases, contrasted by a modern minimalist design and lighting. And his office is filled with the predictable mix of photos and mementos, including a wood gavel presented to him by the late Speaker Matt Ryan and a signed photo from then Governor Tom Ridge, who was also Walsh’s boss at the time. And his whiteboard is equally full of a dozen disparate legislative issues that he and his team are pursuing at any given time.
But look a little closer, and there are a few surprises behind Walsh’s easy-going and personal manner.
For one, he hates politics.
“It’s such a dichotomy, it’s what I do, and I love what I do, but I’m not someone who enjoys getting involved in campaigns,” says the self-described legislative strategist. (And yet, even here, if you go beyond the surface, Walsh will also tell you it was a political campaign some 35 years ago that led to his life’s work.)
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