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Breaking Up Is Hard to Do

The nation’s leading Democratic direct-mail firm is breaking apart. Crounse, Malchow, Schlackman & Hoppey, which had almost 100 clients in the last election cycle and has been together in its present form since 1997, is losing Crounse.

Jim Crounse, a seasoned political operative, has decided to set up his own general consulting and direct-mail shop, Crounse.Mail.

“We’re in the process of wrapping up the legal details” of the divorce, said Crounse, who blamed “creative differences” for the company’s dissolution.

The firm’s other principals — Hal Malchow, Rich Schlackman and Trish Hoppey, all direct-mail veterans — are expected to remain together.

Although the firm’s client list did not quite run from A to Z in the last cycle, it ran from A — the Arizona Coordinated Democratic Campaign — to V — Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack (D). In addition to politicians, Crounse, Malchow, Schlackman & Hoppey has also done work for NARAL, the Sierra Club and the AFL-CIO.

Crounse said it was not clear how the firm’s clients would be dispersed, but he said it is likely that the politicians he worked closest with will stay with him and that the clients who worked with his former partners will remain with them.

Crounse was a chief of staff to Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and former Rep. Peter Hoagland (D-Neb.), and served as a regional political director to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Prior to coming to Washington in the 1980s, he ran a political consulting firm in his home state of Nebraska.

Malchow did not respond to messages left at his office.

A New Partner. Stevens Reed Curcio & Co., a Republican media firm based in Alexandria, Va., has added Erik Potholm to its partner list. The firm will heretofore be known as Stevens Reed Curcio and Potholm.

Potholm has produced award-winning ads for candidates, business coalitions, trade associations and Fortune 500 corporations. His clients have included Sen. Mike DeWine (R-Ohio), new New Hampshire Gov. Craig Benson (R), Wal-Mart, and the American Forest & Paper Association.

Cooper & Secrest Associates, the Democratic polling firm, has promoted Josh Miller to the position of senior analyst.

Miller, who joined the firm in 2000, will continue to analyze data for a variety of political, corporate and nonprofit clients. He is an expert in the science of statistical sampling, and he will continue to safeguard the methodology of every Cooper & Secrest poll.

Project Mercury. Thomas Doherty, a Republican political operative and longtime aide to New York Gov. George Pataki (R), is joining Mercury Public Affairs, a New York and Albany-based firm, as managing director.

Doherty, a former elected official in Westchester County, N.Y., also worked for former Rep. Joe DioGuardi (R-N.Y.).

Kieran Mahoney, one of three partners at Mercury, is a top GOP strategist in New York who has also worked for Pataki and DioGuardi, among others. The firm offers strategic management, public opinion research, lobbying, PR and advertising services.

Chain of Command. The Freedom Alliance, an educational and charitable foundation founded by Oliver North that promotes military service and a strong national defense, has promoted its executive director to president.

Thomas Kilgannon will take over the president’s title from former Sen. Steve Symms (R-Idaho), who will continue on the organization’s board of directors. Kilgannon was a top aide to former Rep. Mark Neumann (R-Wis.).

BallotCast-ing About. BallotCast, an operator of political Internet sites based in Highland Park, Ill., is boasting this week about rejecting an offer from Sen. John Edwards’ (D-N.C.) office to sell the Web domain name, which BallotCast owns.

In a news release, BallotCast President Todd Stein said the company would launch and maintain the Edwards Web site to inform the public about the candidate’s ties to evil-doers such as “polluters, drug companies, trial lawyers, labor unions, or other special interests.”

“This domain name will be used as a vehicle to inform the electorate should Senator Edwards decide to run for president in 2004,” Stein said.

BallotCast in fact owns the Web domain names for several sites that could be used by presidential contenders other Democratic politicians, and even a few foreign leaders, including:;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;

Stein did not rule out the possibility of selling some of the domain names, however.

“While the names in our portfolio are always registered in the spirit of the First Amendment, we will continuously review all strategic alternatives — including possible divestitures of certain properties,” he said.

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