Dwain Schenck first met Guy Smith at a refugee camp in the Middle East.
It was the first Gulf War, right before Kuwait was liberated by allied ground forces.
Schenck was communications director for Americares. He lived in Jordan, helping coordinate medical relief airlifts from the US. Working together, the two men became fast — and lifelong — friends.
Schenck has had an intriguing career. He was the first Western TV reporter in Armenia after a devastating earthquake. He worked in disaster areas and war zones around the world, including Iran, North Korea, Nicaragua, Egypt, Somalia, Sudan, Rwanda and Bosnia.
In 1993 he traveled with former first lady Barbara Bush to the war-torn Croatian port of Split, on a humanitarian mission, delivering medical relief supplies to hospitals. He wrote several speeches for her.
Bush was “inquisitive and very compassionate,” Schenck recalls. “She was also tough and a real trouper, braving cold and difficult conditions at clinics and refugee camps. She was a class act, with a down-to-earth style all her own. She looked like America’s grandmother, but she was young at heart and full of energy.”
Schenck, his wife and 3 children moved to Westport in 2003. It’s a town he’d always loved, from his early days with Stamford-based Americares.
Today he owns Schenck Strategies, a boutique PR and strategic communications firm.
Last December, Smith called. He’s running for governor of Connecticut. Schenck signed on as communications director.
Smith is a Democrat from Greenwich. After Americares he joined Diageo as a senior executive. He was a special adviser to Bill Clinton during the president’s impeachment proceedings.
But, Schenck says, Smith is “not a career politician or a career candidate.”
Schenck calls him “the right man for the job, at this point in our state’s history.” His communications director says Smith brings people together, and can “break through the divisiveness that keeps government from working for the people of this state.”
Westport is not exactly ground zero in the gubernatorial race. We do, however, have 2 candidates: Republican Steve Obsitnik and unaffiliated Marisa Manly.
Now another neighbor is helping a Democratic candidate.
There are about 25 candidates in the ever-changing list of hopefuls to succeed Governor Dannel Malloy. May the best man or woman win.