Wonks on the Web

Steve Haner: Reality Check

Stephen D. Haner has observed, written about and participated in Virginia public affairs for three decades. He has done it from an unusual combination of perspectives: newspaper reporter, Republican political operative, state agency manager and lobbyist.

He is now building a practice as an independent government affairs and public relations consultant, doing business as North Chase Communications.

Previous full time positions have included:

  • Vice President for Public Policy of the Virginia Chamber of Commerce (2002-2005), serving as the chief lobbyist for Virginia’s premier statewide business advocacy group.
  • Director of Administration, Office of Attorney General (1998-2002), the only non-attorney on the senior management team of what was then Virginia’s third largest law firm. As head of the administration division Steve was responsible for personnel, budget, payroll, the physical plant, information systems, the law library and the regional offices. He was appointed by Mark Earley.
  • Executive Director of the Joint Republican Caucus (1988-1992). After 18 months as state party press secretary, Steve became the first (and next to last) full-time executive of the former joint caucus. On his watch the Caucus membership increased 14 seats, despite the Democratic House gerrymander of 1991. With 18 seats in the Senate, Republicans were poised to cooperate with conservative Democrats and begin to enjoy real influence in that body. The majorities Republicans enjoy today were within reach.
  • Roanoke Times (1976-1986), serving as the paper’s political writer the final two years.  Steve covered his first legislative elections in 1977, and helped cover the 1981 and 1985 gubernatorial elections. He won both of the paper’s internal writing awards, one for feature writing and the other for news writing. It was at the Roanoke Times that fate brought Steve and Jim Bacon together.

After the licking delivered to Democrats in the 1991 election, a leaked internal Democratic Party memo about how to reorganize their political operation delivered quite a compliment to Steve. Seeking to imitate his activities, the Democrats sought to hire up to five regional consultants. (They had gone through three of or four individual directors during Steve’s tenure.)

The July 22, 1992 Times Dispatch Editorial Page – long before the Austin Powers movies – dubbed the proposed regional activists “Mini-Haners” and continued:

“Steve Haner packs more punch lines than Henny Youngman, but he knows that politics is no laughing matter…  For generations, Virginia’s legislative races were quiescent affairs.  Steve Haner injected some welcome wit.  Even his targets shared a chuckle or two.  When the 1991 results turned their laughter into tears, the Democrats decided to get in on the act. Aggressive competition benefits both parties – and the voters they pursue. And if humor spices the proceedings, then so much the better.”




December 12: No Easy Way Out. Rail improvements can do only so much to get trucks off the road. Fiddling with the state road funding formula isn't on the table. And the federal government isn't riding to the rescue. What's left?


November 28: This New House. With up to 17 newcomers it will be a very different House of Delegates in January.  Most of the rookies have had careers in government, and few have any real business experience.


October 31: Unintelligent Design for Science. If evolution is only a "theory," so is the "theory" that the earth revolves around the sun. Must we we teach pre-Copernican astronomy in our science classes? 


October 3: Questions for the AG Candidates. There are two kinds of questions to ask candidates for Attorney General: Those that voters care about -- and those that actually pertain to the AG's job.


September 19: Herding Candidates. Contenders for House of Delegates this year offer loads of solutions for solving Virginia's road woes.  The ideas have little in common except promising to get someone else to pay for the improvements.


September 5: Your Budget's So Big...  How big was Virginia's 2005 budget surplus? It was so big that 2006 revenues could shrink and the state still would run a surplus.


May 23: The Transportation SOLs. Virginians for Better Transportation will be a success if candidates in 2005 face an electorate that at least knows the facts and asks the good questions.


March 14: Fantasyland. Campaign brochures will claim that the 2005 General Assembly raised $850 million for transportation. That's pure spin. Look closely, and you'll find that as little as $23 million is new, ongoing spending.


- 2004 -


November 29: Put the "Trust" Back in Trust Fund. The General Assembly is giving serious thought to protecting the Transportation Trust Fund from fiscal raids during hard times.


September 17: Reality Check. Pick your own state budget surplus figure: $677 million, $324 million or $0. All three can be valid depending on what you are trying to prove -- or obfuscate.


August 23: No More Snake Oil! The truth isn't popular, but here it is: We cannot improve our transportation system without raising taxes. Anyone who says otherwise is peddling poppycock.


March 1: All This for 0.4 Percent? The proposed House budget spends almost as much money as the "pro-tax" Warner plan but resorts to a jumbled mix of new "fees", closed "loopholes" and accounting gimmicks.


February 16: Fog Alert. Flash your high beams when lawmakers invoke patriotism and parenthood. There's a good chance they're trying to slip something by you.


February 2: The "Somewhere Else" Tax. The governor's proposal to close the alleged "nowhere income" loophole will likely move the income -- and jobs of many Virginians -- somewhere else.




Contact Information

North Chase Communications: northchase(at)




Family Information


Steve has been married for almost 30 years to Pamela Haner, who currently teaches math to middle school students in a Chesterfield program for the gifted and coaches the Central Virginia region’s championship Mathcounts Team. They met as freshmen at the College of William and Mary, where they both graduated in 1976.


Their son Neil is a 2003 civil engineering graduate of the University of Virginia and a first lieutenant in the Air Force.  He is assigned to Scott AFB in Illinois and has finished a deployment in Kirkuk, Iraq.


Their daughter Cheryl earned her bachelor’s degree at Virginia Commonwealth University in May 2005, passed her license exam a month later and is working as a nurse in the neurology department at MCV Hospitals.



Lobbying Clients


Previously Registered Lobbying Clients:


Virginia Chamber of Commerce (1996, 2002- 2005)


Virginia Association of Realtors (January 1994-December 1995)


Lockheed Martin IMS (1996-97)


Virginia Real Estate Attorneys League (1996-97, 2002)


Virginia Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Stores Association (2002)


Moseley-Flint Schools of Real Estate (1996)


Virginia Riverboat Council (1996)


National Marine Manufacturers Association (1996)


Commonwealth Academy for Professional Education (1997)


City of Norfolk (NHL Hockey Arena Bill) (1997)


Center for Employment Training (1997)


Rubber Patch Company (Highway contractor) (2002)


Senior Campus Living LLC (1997)