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Cathleen Decker named 2012 campaign editor

February 12, 2011 | 11:41 am

Times Editor Russ Stanton sent the following announcement to the newsroom:

Decker Cathleen Decker, who co-directed our outstanding coverage of last year’s California gubernatorial and Senate campaigns, has taken on a new assignment: editor of our 2012 national campaign coverage.

As you know, Cathy is one of the nation’s most knowledgeable editors when it comes to politics (more on that in a minute). In this job, she will oversee all aspects of our coverage, including the race for president, the battles for control of the House and Senate, and key gubernatorial races in pivotal states that could affect who winds up in the White House. She will ensure that we provide our readers with up-top-the-minute breaking news online, thorough analysis in print, and supplemental coverage over the airwaves and through social media.

Cathy will report to National Editor Roger Smith and will help coordinate our company’s efforts by working closely with Chicago Tribune Deputy Managing Editor Peter Kendall, who is overseeing coverage of President Obama’s Chicago-based campaign headquarters, and Washington Bureau Chief Kerry Luft, who heads up our  coverage of the White House, Congress and the Washington political scene.

When Cathy began covering presidential politics, Barack Obama was a newly minted community organizer, Mitt Romney hadn’t yet made his first million and Sarah Palin was still a college student in Idaho. Cathy covered the 1984 national political conventions that set up Ronald Reagan’s rout of Walter Mondale. Four years later, she became an honorary citizen of New Hampshire, where she took up residence and chronicled the often amusing and always revealing events in that state’s traditional first-in-the-nation primary. (Candidate Al Haig to an overweight woman in a donut shop: “Come here  often?”)

Cathy has tackled every major national or state political story since then -- Reagan, both Bushes, both Clintons and Obama, with a fair amount of Feinstein, Boxer, Schwarzenegger and Brown thrown into the mix. Along the way, she became a master at interpreting public opinion surveys and at teaching a generation of reporters the ins and outs of providing precise, careful and fast-moving campaign coverage for our readers.

Two years ago, Cathy began writing The Week, a column that expertly reviews major stories of the preceding seven days, subjecting them to the careful scrutiny and analysis for which she has become so well known. The Week is a central feature of our Sunday California report, in print and online. As she did quite capably last year, Cathy will continue to write as the campaign season unfolds.

In the coming weeks and months, we will be tapping staff members from various sections to join in the campaign coverage, particularly on the Republican side, as it shifts into higher gear.