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Go South, Young Operatives

Sen. George Allen (R-Va.) has adopted another staffer from the successful 2004 campaign of Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) — and from the stable of Sen. Wayne Allard (R-Colo.).

Janel Domenico has been named finance director for Allen’s 2006 re-election campaign. She just finished raising $16 million for Thune. In the 2002 cycle, she was Allard’s chief fundraiser.

Dick Wadhams, Thune’s campaign manager, and a longtime Allard adviser, signed on with Allen earlier this year and now serves as his chief of staff.

Here Comes the ‘son. Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) this week signed a seasoned operative to aid his re-election bid.

Paul Johnson has previously managed three successful Senate campaigns in the Cornhusker State and will now “spearhead” Nelson’s efforts, the Lincoln Journal Star reported this week. Johnson said he will not manage day-to-day operations but will focus on the big picture. He led the successful campaigns of former Sen. Bob Kerrey (D-Neb.) and Nelson’s 2000 victory.

The former Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee executive director most recently worked on the 2004 failed presidential campaigns of retired Gen. Wesley Clark and then-Sen. Bob Graham (D-Fla.).

New York, a Hick(s) Town. Veteran Democratic operative Karen Hicks has signed on with the New York City mayoral campaign of Gifford Miller. She is leading the New York City Council Speaker’s field operations, The New York Times reported this week.

Hicks previously worked on the high-flying-turned-flame-out presidential campaign of former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean (D).

Most recently she was a senior adviser to British Prime Minister Tony Blair’s re-election effort. Prior to that she was the Democratic National Committee’s national field director for Sen. John Kerry’s (D-Mass.) presidential campaign.

Heather Blooms. A top aide to Kerry has been elected to fill a vacancy from Maryland on the Democratic National Committee.

In a vote of the state Democratic Party last week, Heather Mizeur, Kerry’s director of domestic policy, defeated Mary Jo Neville to become the new national committeewoman from the Free State. Mizeur, a rising star in state politics, fills the slot previously held by Susan Turnbull, who was elevated to DNC vice chairwoman by her national committee colleagues earlier this year.

Mizeur, who ran Kerry’s presidential campaign in Maryland last year, is a member of the Takoma Park, Md., City Council and is the founding member of the New Generation Montgomery PAC, a political action committee working to elect young people to office in Montgomery County, Md. She is eyeing a run for the state Legislature in 2006.

Defeating Neville was no mean feat: Neville is a former state party vice chairwoman who had been filling an at-large slot on the DNC. She is an official with the powerful Maryland State Teachers Association.

The state party also named Baltimore investment banker Oz Bengur to be its treasurer. Bengur ran unsuccessfully for the Democratic nomination for the House in the 2nd district in 2002.

Oh, to be in Santa Barbara. The 7th annual Firestone retreat, the popular assemblage of California Republican moderates, is set to take place June 10-12 in Santa Barbara.

Organized by a leader of the GOP moderates, former state Assemblyman Brooks Firestone, the gathering typically draws about 500 Republicans. Candidates for a variety of state offices — from across the party spectrum — are invited to speak.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) is not scheduled to be there, but his chief of staff, Pat Clarey, will be. In addition to candidates, there will be discussions about redistricting, women in politics, immigration policy, attracting minority voters in the Los Angeles area, and the various 2006 races. Former Rep. Jim Rogan (R-Calif.) will be signing copies of his book, “Rough Edges: My Unlikely Road from Welfare to Washington.”

Planting the Seeds for a GOP Victory. Pitt County farmer Ferrell Blount handily won a second term as chairman of the North Carolina Republican Party Saturday.

He easily beat back Vernon Robinson, a conservative Winston-Salem city councilman and self-described “black Jesse Helms,” who lost a bid for Congress last year.

Robinson conceded to Blount and moved that Blount’s re-election as chairman be declared by acclamation once he saw how badly he was losing during voting, the Charlotte Observer reported.

Feeling Minnesota. Minneapolis attorney Brian Melendez beat two opponents in a contested race to become chairman of the Minnesota Democratic Farm-Labor Party Saturday.

Melendez, who previously served as chairman of the Minneapolis DFL (the official party name for Minnesota Democrats), beat Josh Syrjamaki, who served as deputy campaign chairman to the late-Sen. Paul Wellstone (D-Minn.), while former state Rep. Betty Folliard dropped out to support Melendez during voting, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported.

He replaces Mike Erlandson, who served a record-breaking six years. Erlandson will continue to serve as chief of staff to Rep. Martin Sabo (D-Minn.), a position he held during his tenure as chairman.

Cease Fire. The American Association of Political Consultants has declared victory in its bid to get the United States Postal Service to roll back a rate hike.

The new rates would have applied to campaign mail but the AAPC pushed the Postal Service to reconsider after threatening to lobby Congress if necessary.

Going forward, personalized mail sent to voters will be priced at the cheaper standard rate and not the first-class postage rate, according to an AAPC news release.

“This new ruling prevents a record increase in campaign spending, and it is a landmark victory for political speech,” said Tony Fazio, AAPC vice president. The new rates and clarification go into effect Wednesday.

Representatives of the Postal Service and AAPC met May 9 to iron things out, which prevented the group from taking its case to Congress.Josh Kurtz contributed to this report.

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