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Dear Landlord, Please Don’t Put a Price on My Soul

In his day job, Thomas Cook, chairman of the Monroe County (N.Y.) Conservative Party, is a lawyer who is lucky enough to own the small office building where he works in Pittsford.

He has two tenants — and both happen to be seeking the Republican nomination for the district now held by Rep. Amo Houghton (R-N.Y.), who is retiring.

One is Monroe County Legislator Mark Assini, whose campaign headquarters is in the building. The other is Monroe County Legislature Majority Leader Bill Smith (R), whose law office is the next suite over.

“They meet in the hall every now and then and talk strategy,” Cook reports.

Assini and Smith are among the half-dozen Republicans vying to replace Houghton. But one — or both — could be out of the race by tonight.

Four of the six Republicans are from Monroe County, and the Monroe GOP is scheduled to designate its favorite candidate tonight. All four have agreed to bow out in favor of the winner, who will fight it out with state Sen. Randy Kuhl and state Assemblyman Brian Kolb in the Sept. 14 Republican primary.

Playing It Kuhl. Speaking of the race to replace Houghton, Kuhl, the nominal frontrunner who has been endorsed by the Congressman, has put together a team of consultants for the race.

The list includes Alexandria, Va.-based McLaughlin & Associates to handle polling; Dan Hazelwood of Targeted Creative Communications in Alexandria, Va., for direct mail; Jack Cookfair of Cookfair Media in Syracuse, N.Y., for media; and Tom Slater of TLS Associates in Clifton Park, N.Y., to handle some fundraising.

Fine-tuning the Network. The New Democrat Network last week announced two key appointments.

Maria Cardona was promoted to senior vice president and will take on more responsibility for NDN’s day-to-day operations and its strategic direction, as well as continuing to guide its Spanish-language national media campaign, Demócratas Unidos — Hispanic Project. Cardona joined the group in March 2003.

NDN has also hired Guillermo Menses as vice president for communications. He will lead NDN’s national media activities and work to bolster NDN’s presence in the Spanish-language media.

Prior to joining NDN, Meneses was deputy communications director and director of Hispanic media for the Democratic National Committee and founded NuSiglo Media, a media relations firm.

Meneses was also an adviser to then-Energy Secretary Bill Richardson and was a producer for several TV news outlets.

Migrating West Along Route 50. The Maryland Republican Party is losing its executive director.

Eric Sutton, who had been with the state party since early 2003 after holding a similar post with the Delaware GOP, is leaving at the end of the month to join MH Media, a new national consulting firm in Washington, D.C., founded by veteran Republican media consultant Mike Hudome.

Sutton is the second top staffer to leave the Maryland GOP in recent weeks. Erin Casey, the state party finance director, recently left for a job at the National Republican Congressional Committee.

Deborah Martinez, a spokeswoman for the Free State GOP, said the party expects to name a new finance director and an interim executive director in the next few days.

Viva Las Vegas. Nevada political columnist Jon Ralston reported Wednesday that Jim Mulhall, a former Silver State political operative who is now based in D.C., has been hired to be the media consultant to businessman Tom Gallagher, the likely Democratic nominee against freshman Rep. Jon Porter (R-Nev.).

This will be the second straight race Mulhall is working against Porter in the Las Vegas suburbs. In 2002 he was the media strategist for Dario Herrera (D), the then highly touted Clark County commissioner who wound up losing by 20 points.

The race between Porter and Gallagher is expected to be considerably closer.

Fighting for Boxer. Sen. Barbara Boxer’s (D-Calif.) re-election campaign has just hired a new black outreach coordinator. Taking the job is Vincent Jones, a Los Angeles native who worked most recently for a ballot initiative to provide $3.8 billion in school construction and repair bonds.

Boxer is seeking a third term against former California Secretary of State Bill Jones (R) — no relation to Vincent.

Give My Regards to Broad Street. The Web site is reporting this week that Tony Podesta, the well-connected D.C. lobbyist, will be named Pennsylvania state director of the presidential campaign of Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.). Podesta ran Keystone State operations for then-President Bill Clinton in his 1996 re-election campaign.

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