Eller Chronicles Aug 93 p- 7

The Eller Chronicles


Page - 261


Page 2A- THE DAILY LEDGER,     Saturday, July 25, 1992

Arcadia's Jeff Eller
Eller leaves farming roots

When Jeff Eller talks about his life, it sounds like a fairy tale, something that could only happen in Hollywood. Eller, who grew up a farm boy, is now a press secretary for Gov. Bill Clinton.
But Eller, 36, never planned on a political career and to be the first of five generations to leave behind the family farm near Arcadia in northern Hamilton County, where his family farms and raises Belgian horses. The horses run freely in the green pasture that separates the farmhouse where Jeff's brother Crae and his family live, and his parents, Lee and Eleanor Eller's home. The farm has been in the family forever, Eleanor said. It's not only their business. it's their life and their love, she said.
The quiet farm scenery is something quite different from what Jeff Eller has been accustomed to since leaving home. His life now Is full of staff meetings, telephone calls and making plans for the presidential campaign.
Waiting to catch a plane in the Seattle, Wash., airport, Eller discussed his once-in-a-lifetime opportunity in being involved in a presidential campaign. He was heading back to his home base in Little Rock. Ark. He was in Seattle setting up a TV broadcast, which today will air a town meeting live. He went to Washington after a short time in New Jersey just after attending the Democratic National Convention in New York.

Leading Florida

Eller had been working for the Democrat Senate Campaign Committee in November and talked with people who knew Clinton. That's when Eller first expressed an interest to them about working on the Clinton campaign.
"They offered me a job the day before Thanksgiving."' Eller said. He was to lead the Florida campaign.
Eller's parents had come to his home in Washington, D.C., for Thanksgiving and he told them in person about his-newest challenge.
"They were excited," Eller said. "They've always been good about saying 'if you think it's a good thing...' This just seems odd to them, it's different to them."
That was the start of a successful campaign that saw Clinton win the Florida primary on Super Tuesday. He beat out Tom Harkin. who was expected to win the primary. Eller said.
It was also the beginning of an end to Paul Tsongas, who later dropped out of the race. And that was the turning point for Clinton and for Eller.
Eller stayed in Tallahasse, Fla., from December until March when he moved to Little Rock, Ark., to begin his new task as press secretary.

Meeting Clinton

It wasn't until just after Thanksgiving that Eller finally got to meet the man he was campaigning for.
And what was Eller's first impression?
"How tall he is," Eller said chuckling a little. Clinton Is about 6-feet 2-inches tall. "He's like a big guy."

'I was fascinated by it (politics) and wanted to, see what it was like on the other side.'
---Jeff Eller

"The one thing that happens all the time: He makes a strong impression on you." Eller said in a more serious voice. "He's a good guy. And I started out not knowing. him." After leaving Florida, Eller went to Little Rock, Ark., and works from that office now. His day starts early each morning with a senior staff meeting. 'From there it is nonstop,' he said.
He spends most of the day on the phone, talking with political reporters and press secretaries in various states to go over what needs to be done that day.
And that takes him until well beyond dusk.
Eller oversees about 15 people and oversees the campaign in all the states.
"The hours are really, really tiring," he said. Especially since the convention has just ended and Clinton and his running mate Sen. Al Gore are on a bus tour through the Midwest. Eller is not touring with them.

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Eller Chronicles Vol. VII (3) Aug, 1993

'He was a very interesting student to have in class. He is an intense person, someone who accepted a challenge and really stuck with it. He also is very empathetic and able to put himself in other people's places'

- Stann Renner, history teacher

'Coming out of the convention is really key. And with the bus tour....' he said, 'it's turned out to be very good.'
It was Eller's second convention. He spent It with the delegates from Florida, since that's where he got his start in the Clinton campaign.

How It stared

Eller's mother beamed as she talked about her oldest son's career. But not wanting to sound like a bragging mother, she talked casually about Jeff and how proud she was to hear he was featured In the Wallstreet Journal last week.
She admitted she's not a political person. 'I'm not Democrat or Republican.' she said. 'I'm for the man.'
Jeff Eller said he often jokes there are only four Democrats in Hamilton County - himself, Tim and Mike Craft, "and I think my Dad."
Jeff was always interested in politics, his mother said. He was involved In student government in high school and always wanted to be a reporter, she said.
Stanton Renner, Eller's government teacher, said he always enjoyed talking politics with Eller during the Watergate years when Eller was still in high school.
"He was a very interesting student to have in class," Renner said. "He is an intense person, someone who accepted a challenge and really stuck with it. He also is very empathetic and able to Put himself in other People's places."
Renner said he Is not surprised Eller has made a career of politics.
"I am surprised he went as deep into politics," Renner said. "On second thought, I should have guessed. He's really a people person and his family is active in politics at the county and local level."
Jeffs grandfather, the late Clifford Eller, was White River Township Trustee and his grandmother, Denzel Eller, is still interested in local Politics, Renner said. She works at the election Polls in Hamilton County.
This year Renner will probably use Eller as an example to his students during a session on the presidential election.
"It's one way to point out thar local people can make a difference," Renner said, "I'm very proud of him. That's one of the joys of teaching to see how they turn out. You can't always predict it; it's certainly fun to watch them. It's rewarding and I'm anxious to see Jeff at the inauguration."
After graduating at Heights,, Eller went to Purdue where he was studying communications; that's when he got his first taste of the electronic media. He worked at the Cary Quad radio station.
He dropped Out of Purdue and went to work on a Crawsfordsville radio station, first on the . overnight" spot and then as a reporter for stations in Crawfordsville and Terre Haute. In 1978, he moved to Chattanooga. Tenn. A few years later he moved to Nashville to work at a television station covering traffic accidents, crime and politics.
In 1984, he left television news to work for congressman Bill Boner in Washington, D.C. And when Eller made that announcement, a Banner TV, Radio reporter wrote that Nashville had lost one of its finest "spot news"' reporters. Eller covered everything from trials to prison riots to feature stories and of course. politics.
"He dug and struggled until he had his story." the newspaper said.
And when that story was. printed, Eller sent it to his parents with a message at the top: Hey Mom & Dad: How about this!!!
His mother has that article and others about Jeff's career and family milestones, neatly tucked away in family albums.
"I was fascinated by it (politics) and wanted to see what it was like on-the other side," Eller said about the move from television to politics. "I got interested in radio at Purdue. I didn't take a look at politics."
Eller's first campaign was in 1986 in East Lansing, Mich. He was working for congressman Bob Carr's staff. Carr was re-elected and Eller went to work shortly after for Valparaiso University business professor Jill Long.
Long was never expected to win the election to fill Dan Coats' house seat after he was appointed to the U.S. Senate. But Long did win. And two days after the election, Eller was back in Washington and offered a job with the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
He took a short departure from U.S. politics, though, and in 1989, found himself in Panama. He was hired as a consultant on the ill-fated campaign of Guillermo Endara.
Even though Endara won the election, Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega canceled the results.

"The one thing that happens all the time. He makes a strong impression on you. He's a good guy. And I started out not knowing him."

--- Jeff Eller

A bit more on Jeff Eller

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Eller Chronicles Vol. VII (3) Aug, 1993

Jeff Eller (right) and his brother Crae spend a day together in Michigan last August. The two were judging a horse competition there. Eller's family raises Belgian horses at their rural Arcadia farm. In his younger years, Jeff Eller showed the horses, which is not only a busness, but a way of life for the Eller family. One thing Eller says he misses the most about being away from home is attending the Indiana State Fair each August. "I don't think I'll be able to make it this year," Eller said. Eller was the first of five generations to leave the farm. The older he gets the more he misses it, he says.

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Eller Chronicles Vol. VII (3) Aug, 1993

(Eds. Listed as Jeffrey Lee Eller p. 135 The Eller Chronicles, Vol. VII-2, May 1993 in the genealogy of John and Ann (Overdorf) Eller, Arcadia, IN ( The Jacob Eller line of Roanoke Co., VE. This newspaper story submitted by Marjorie B. McCormick and her daughter Mary Beth)

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