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Club for Growth, Growing

The Club for Growth, the national anti-tax organization, this week announced the creation of a sister organization, the California Club for Growth.

Based in Sacramento, the new organization will mirror the activities of the national group, whose strong fiscal conservatism has led it to target moderate Republicans in primaries, often to the consternation of GOP officials who are more interested in winning than maintaining ideological purity.

The new entity has also formed a separate 527, the California Club for Growth Fund, to support political candidates and causes.

“We’re going to model our California Club for Growth on the national model,” said California Assemblyman Tony Strickland (R), the president of the new organization. “We’re going to get involved in California Republican races.”

In addition to Strickland, the California Club’s board of directors consists of Arthur Laffer, a supply-sider hero dating back to his tenure as economic adviser to President Ronald Reagan; Stephen Moore, president of the national Club for Growth, and Shawn Steel, immediate past chairman of the Golden State GOP.

The quartet appeared together at news conferences and fundraisers this week in Los Angeles and Sacramento.

Strickland, who will run the California Club full time after his legislative term ends in December, said the organization will get involved in a few elections this year. He will also bird-dog the state budget process next year and become fully engaged in the 2006 state elections.

“We’re going to be a force to be reckoned with in ’06,” Strickland said.

The California Club plans to work closely with two other prominent anti-tax organizations with strong grassroots networks — the People’s Advocate, which masterminded the 2003 recall of then-Gov. Gray Davis (D), and the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, named for the man who spawned the state’s anti-tax revolution in 1978 by placing a landmark initiative on the ballot.

“It will be a supply-side club with clout,” Strickland said.

Neel Sticks With Deaniacs. Just months after the presidential campaign of former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean (D) revolutionized political use of the Internet, a former Dean campaign manager is joining a quartet of other ex-Dean staffers at a new Internet-based communications firm.

Washington political veteran Roy Neel has joined D.C.-based Blue State Digital as a senior adviser. Neel, who served as campaign manager to Dean in the waning days of the presidential campaign, was a longtime adviser to former Vice President Al Gore.

Neel served as Gore’s chief of staff in the White House and also worked for Gore in the House and Senate. He has also served as president and CEO of the U.S. Telecom Association, and teaches political science at Vanderbilt University in Nashville.

At Blue State Digital, Neel will join forces with four former Deaniacs who developed the ex-governor’s Internet communications and organizing tools: Jascha Franklin-Hodge, Clay Johnson, Joe Rospars and Ben Self.

Blue State is a full-service Internet consulting firm. Neel will serve as the principal contact with potential political, corporate and nonprofit clients.

New Mexico News. Vanessa Alarid has been named the new executive director of the New Mexico Democratic Party. She has worked for Gov. Bill Richardson (D) in his Office of Homeland Security, and also worked for Richardson when he was in Congress.

She has also served as an aide to Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) and an intern for the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. Most recently, Alarid, the granddaughter of a former state Senator, worked as a policy analyst for the New Mexico House of Representatives.

The Man from South. James Keane is leaving his post as a top aide in Western New York to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) to manage the fledgling Congressional campaign of New York state Assemblyman Brian Higgins (D).

Higgins is the Democratic frontrunner in the race to replace retiring Rep. Jack Quinn (R) in Western New York’s 27th district.

Keane is a former deputy county executive in Erie County and a former member of the town of South’s common council.

St. Paul, New York. Richard Hoffman, the Republican seeking to defeat entrenched Rep. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) in the Empire State’s 18th district, has hired Richard St. Paul to be his campaign manager.

St. Paul worked as campaign director for a state Assembly candidate in New York, Tony Sayegh, and has also worked for the Pennsylvania state government under former Republican Govs. Mark Schweiker and Tom Ridge.

Hoffman has also hired New York-based 5W Public Relations to do P.R. for his campaign. The firm’s diverse list of clients includes P. Diddy’s Bad Boy Entertainment, the Israel Ministry of Tourism and the Lebanese-American Council for Democracy.

Adios, NALEO. Rep. Ed Pastor (D-Ariz.) has just completed his two-year stint as president of the board of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials. He will be succeeded by John Bueno, the mayor of Pontiac, Mich.

Bueno, who is of Puerto Rican descent, is the first Republican and the first non-Mexican-American to hold the position in NALEO’s 28-year history.

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