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Chad Hanging in Florida

Chad Clanton, who left Fernando Ferrer’s New York mayoral campaign under circumstances that have yet to be fully explained, has signed on with Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.).

According to Democratic sources, Clanton is poised to lead Nelson’s 2006 re-election campaign.

Clanton, who worked as a senior aide and spokesman on the failed presidential campaign of Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) last year, abruptly left Ferrer’s campaign at the end of April.

The former frontrunner had stumbled and blundered and Clanton, serving as communications director, and message strategist David Axelrod bolted ahead of this year’s mayoral contest in the Big Apple. Earlier this week, Ferrer announced that he was bringing in David Doak to serve as his top media strategist.

News of Clanton’s imminent arrival in Florida coincided with Rep. Katherine Harris’ announcement this week that she would seek the GOP nomination to run against the freshman Senator.

Coxswains. Republican Ed Cox, who is exploring a Senate bid in the Empire State, has hired a campaign manager, chief consultant, pollster, communications director and a lawyer.

Cox, son-in-law to the late President Richard Nixon, seems pretty serious about his possible effort to unseat Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) next year.

Peter Santiago leaves the office of New York Gov. George Pataki (R) to manage Cox’s exploratory committee, while I. Lynn Mueller will serve as his top strategist. Mueller, another Pataki veteran, is the president of Decision Strategies Group, based in Albany, N.Y.

Thomas Basile, a former spokesman for the Coalition Provisional Authority that ruled Iraq after the U.S. invasion until the recently held elections, will serve as a senior adviser and communications director.

The former National Republican Committee staffer also did communications work for President Bush’s 2000 campaign and for Pataki.

Fred Steeper of Market Strategies Inc. has signed on to do polling for Cox. Steeper handled some polling, including surveys in Ohio, for the Bush-Cheney campaign last year.

Another Bush-Cheney veteran, attorney Ben Ginsberg, has agreed to serve as Cox’s campaign counsel.

The Patton Boggs partner was national counsel for both of Bush’s presidential campaigns and has worked extensively advising the various Republican Party committees.

Here Comes the Sun. The Democratic Leadership Council and its think tank, the Progressive Policy Institute, have hired a new spokeswoman.

Tammy Sun will speak on behalf of both organizations. She previously served former President Bill Clinton — a former DLC leader — and the Clinton Foundation as deputy communications director.

Meanwhile, Shawna Francis has been tapped to head up the groups’ Congressional affairs efforts.

Francis comes to the DLC from the Westin Rinehart Group, where she was a vice president.

Two for the NRSC. The National Republican Senatorial Committee has hired two staffers to work on races in the Northeast.

Dan Ronayne will serve as a regional spokesman, while Jeff LaCourse was hired as a regional political director.

Ronayne most recently worked for the Senate Republican Conference and handled media for Bush-Cheney 2004 and the RNC, while LaCourse was a pollster with the GOP firm Fabrizio, McLaughlin and Associates in Washington, D.C.

Pataki Pack Packin’ It In. Another sign that Pataki is unlikely to seek a fourth term in 2006 and may depart from politics altogether: Todd Alhart has left the governor’s press office to take a media relations job for GE Global Research.

Alhart is the latest in a string of departures from the Pataki press shop. According to the Albany Times Union, he started his work in state politics with a state Senator, then worked for the state’s budget division, and then handled press for the New York GOP. He joined Pataki’s communications staff in 2003.

Ridin’ the Rales. Maryland businessman Joshua Rales has turned to a veteran Democratic strategist to help him decide whether to run for Senate next year.

Rales, a developer from Potomac, has hired Steve Jarding as a consultant. Jarding has had a variety of A-list clients, including then-Nebraska Sen. Bob Kerrey, Virginia Gov. Mark Warner, then-North Carolina Sen. John Edwards (he ran Edwards’ political action committee), and then-Florida Sen. Bob Graham (he worked for his short-lived presidential campaign).

Rales was urged to enter the 2004 Senate race by state Republican leaders but has since switched parties. He is considered likely to largely self-fund his campaign if he decides to run.

Joining the Georgia GOP. The Georgia Republican Party has appointed new political and communications directors.

Marty Klein, the party’s former communications director who worked on the successful 2002 campaign of Gov. Sonny Perdue (R), was tapped to be political director, while Clelia Davis has left the Republican Governors Association to serve as communications director, the Savannah Business Report and Journal reported.

A Piece of the Rock. Arkansas Lt. Gov. Win Rockefeller (R) is staffing up for his campaign to succeed outgoing Gov. Mike Huckabee (R) next year.

Todd Bachman was named campaign manager, and Tracy Horne will serve as communications director.

Bachman previously served then-Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie as a special assistant.

He also worked as a field director on Sen. Elizabeth Dole’s (R-N.C.) successful 2002 campaign.

Horne was a media liaison and spokesman for the Louisiana Department of Transportation.

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