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From Mel to Mario

Nilda Pedrosa, who served as political director for Mel Martinez's 2004 run for the Senate, has been tapped to serve as Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart's new chief of staff.

"I am truly pleased that Nilda has agreed to take on this key role as my Chief of Staff," Diaz-Balart said in a statement. "Her legislative and policy experience, knowledge of the needs of Floridians, and her many years of public service both in the legislative and executive branches of the federal government made her the natural choice to help lead my office as we move forward in the next Congress."

Pedrosa has worked for Martinez since his election, most recently as his senior policy advisor. She also served as political director of Martinez’s successful 2004 Senate campaign -- something that could benefit Diaz-Balart, should Democrats target him again in 2010.

The Miami native will serve as Diaz-Balart’s principal advisor on political, legislative and policy matters and will be responsible for managing his office and staff.

Martinez, who is not running for re-election, called Pedrosa an "essential part" of his team.

"She will be missed, but I can think of no better person to lead my friend Mario’s office, and I wish her the best in this new position," Martinez said.

Pedrosa previously was appointed by President Bush to serve as Director of the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs under Secretary of State Colin Powell, and she has also served as Director of Public Policy and Governmental Relations for Miami Children’s Hospital.

Diaz-Balart's current chief of staff, Thomas Bean, is leaving to pursue opportunities in the private sector in Florida, Diaz-Balart's office said.

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