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New York City Councilman Bill de Blasio (D) — better known in these parts as Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s (D-N.Y.) 2000 campaign manager and as chief of staff for then-Housing and Urban Development Secretary Andrew Cuomo — was no doubt sorry to see Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.) drop out of the presidential contest.

That’s because de Blasio wasn’t just an Edwards supporter. According to two weekly newspapers in New York, he was also a $6,000-a-month consultant to the Edwards campaign, dating back to July 2003.

The New York Observer wrote in a recent profile of the councilman that he never publicly disclosed his consulting work — though it was a matter of public record in Edwards’ campaign finance statements.

Still, a rival of de Blasio’s in Brooklyn politics, City Councilman Lew Fidler (D), told the Observer that de Blasio’s consulting work for Edwards “doesn’t look right.”

“If my endorsement means anything,

then I shouldn’t be being paid,” said Fidler, a supporter of Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.). “And if I am being paid, it should be a big headline.”

After the Observer piece came out, de Blasio told the Courier Life newspapers in Brooklyn that he did not seek a salaried position; Edwards’ campaign suggested it.

“I never raised the concept,” he said.

De Blasio said he decided to get behind the North Carolina Senator simply because “I decided that Edwards was the better candidate.”

Now, however, he has fallen in line and endorsed Kerry.

New Partnership. Blue Worldwide, the advertising affiliate of public relations giant Edelman, and Stevens Reed Curcio & Potholm, a leading Republican political advertising firm, announced last week they have formed a strategic alliance to pursue public affairs and referendum advertising assignments.

Veteran media consultant Bob McKernan recently took the helm as Blue’s new president, and Edelman Vice Chairman Mike Deaver, the longtime aide to former President Ronald Reagan, took on the added responsibility as vice chairman of Blue.

Since 1993, SRCP has produced advertising for 12 current Republican Senators, six governors and numerous House Members. The firm’s recent clients include Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.), National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman George Allen (Va.) and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.).

The firm has also produced the advertising for ballot measure campaigns and national issue-advocacy efforts for major trade associations and business coalitions.

Both firms will maintain their independence but will team up when they feel clients would benefit from combining their resources.

Rocky Mountain Hires. Colorado Attorney General Ken Salazar (D), who just jumped into the Centennial State’s Senate race two weeks ago, has begun to staff up for the campaign.

He has hired Colorado campaign veteran Jim Carpenter to manage his campaign. Carpenter served as chief of staff to Salazar’s political patron, former Gov. Roy Romer (D), and as press secretary to former Sen. Tim Wirth (D-Colo.). He most recently worked as the director of public affairs for the National Jewish Medical Research Center in Denver.

Salazar had previously announced that Mike Stratton, a Denver-based Democratic consultant, will serve as his campaign chairman.

Salazar has also hired Joan Padilla as scheduler, Mandy Grunwald as media consultant, Paul Harstad as pollster, Melissa Koenigsberg — most recently with Edwards’ erstwhile presidential campaign — as finance director and Brendan McGuire as political director.

Prodigal Daughter Returns. Rebecca Kirszner has joined Pennsylvania state Sen. Allyson Schwartz’s (D) House bid as deputy campaign manager and communications director. Schwartz is one of several candidates vying to replace Rep. Joe Hoeffel (D) in the Philadelphia-area district.

Kirszner got her political start working for Schwartz’s first state Senate campaign 14 years ago. She also was press secretary for Schwartz’s unsuccessful U.S. Senate bid in 2000.

Kirszner has also worked as communications director to Rep. Chakah Fattah (D-Pa.) and most recently as surrogate director for Edwards’ presidential campaign.

Toomey Tops., a Web site that chronicles the goings-on in Keystone State politics, has rated Rep. Pat Toomey’s (R) Senate campaign Web site the best among those of political candidates in the state.

Joe Sterns, a Toomey campaign spokesman, said the campaign has signed up 10,000 volunteers across the state, thanks mostly to the Web site, Toomey is challenging four-term Sen. Arlen Specter in the April 27 GOP primary.

Trade Winds. The Building and Construction Trades Department of the AFL-CIO is holding its annual legislative conference March 29-31 at the Washington Hilton and Towers. A flock of mostly Democratic Members of Congress, union leaders and other political activists are scheduled to speak at the conference, which will focus on mobilizing for the November elections.

Kerry, who has been endorsed by BCTD in the White House race, has been invited to speak on the morning of March 31.

Events. The annual Congressional dinner of the nonpartisan, nonprofit group Women’s Policy Inc. has been scheduled for March 30 at East Hall in Union Station. Reps. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) and Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.) are serving as co-chairwomen for the fundraiser.

21st Century Democrats, an organization that supports liberal Democrats up and down the ballot and trains grassroots campaign workers, is hosting its annual dinner the next night at the Mayflower Hotel. Former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean (D) is scheduled to be the keynote speaker.

Awards will be handed out to CNN “Crossfire” co-host Paul Begala; Texas House Minority Leader Jim Dunham (D); Campaign 101 leader Brendan Ballou; Cecile Richards of America Votes; and Vermont state Sen. Matt Dunne, the group’s designated rising star. Freshman Rep. Artur Davis (D-Ala.) is listed as the special guest.

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