Mary Joe Matalin (born August 19, 1953) is an American political consultant, well known for her work with the Republican Party. She was an assistant to President George W. Bush and counselor to Vice President Dick Cheney until 2003. Matalin has been chief editor of Threshold Editions, a conservative publishing imprint at Simon & Schuster, since March 2005. She is married to Democratic political consultant James Carville. She appears in the award-winning documentary film Boogie Man: The Lee Atwater Story and also played herself, opposite her husband, James Carville, John Slattery, and Mary McCormack in the short lived, HBO series "K Street."
Matalin grew up in the Chicago suburb of Calumet City, Illinois, the daughter of Eileen, who ran beauty salons, and Steven Matalin, a steel mill worker. Her paternal grandparents were Croatian immigrants and her mother was of Irish descent. Matalin attended Thornton Fractional North High School and attended Western Illinois University for college and Hofstra University School of Law, where she was enrolled for one year before dropping out. She was homecoming queen her junior year of high school.
Matalin's first campaign was Illinois Lieutenant Governor Dave O'Neal's bid for the U.S. Senate in 1980, a race O'Neal lost to Alan Dixon. After O'Neal's loss, Matalin began her career with the Republican National Committee, where she would remain for nearly two decades as a key Republican strategist. Leaving briefly to attend Hofstra University School of Law, Matalin dropped out after just one year, and in 1984 returned to the RNC. She rose quickly, as an aide to Richard Bond and Chief of Staff to RNC co-Chairperson Betty Heitman in 1985. A year later, Matalin gained national notoriety when she joined the George H. W. Bush for President Campaign, working as both Deputy Political Director and Midwest Regional Political Director in the primaries. After the election, Matalin was appointed Chief of Staff to then RNC Chairman Lee Atwater. In that capacity, she would in effect run the RNC for nearly a year, as Atwater—his health declining due to an inoperable brain tumor—spent 170 days in the hospital between his diagnosis in early March 1990 and eventual death on March 29, 1991.