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Obama leaves Senate, adds 3 to staff

CHICAGO — As Barack Obama bid farewell to the Senate, the president-elect kept his attention on building a White House team, announcing the hiring Sunday of more key personnel.

Obama, who resigned his Senate seat Sunday, said in a letter published in Illinois newspapers that he was "ending one journey to begin another. ... But I will never forget, and will be forever grateful to, the men and women of this great state who made my life in public service possible."

Shifting to assembling his staff, Obama added veterans from his campaign and Senate office to his incoming White House operations:

 Senior adviser Pete Rouse. He was Obama's Senate chief of staff, a post he also held while working for former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle of South Dakota and Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill.

 Mona Sutphen, deputy chief of staff. A member of Obama's transition team staff, she has been managing director of Stonebridge International, a strategic consulting firm based in Washington.

 Jim Messina, deputy chief of staff. He is now director of personnel for Obama's transition team and was national chief of staff during the presidential campaign.