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Iowa Goes Indie

GOP consultant Steve Grubbs of Davenport, Iowa, is shooting an independent movie about the Iowa caucuses, titled “In the Arena.”

“The feature-length movie is a fictionalized account that portrays a former astronaut and businessman’s quest to win the state complete with numerous touchstones of Iowa’s quadrennial presidential sweepstakes,” the Quad City Times reported.

Grubbs is the president of Victory Enterprises Inc., a media and consulting firm in Davenport. He previously led the Iowa Republican Party and served in the state Legislature.

The lead character, John Porter, is played by former Republican state Sen. Bryan Sievers.

Grubbs said he hopes to wrap up in time to submit the movie to the Sundance film festival.

Exp@nding. While most political consultants use odd-numbered years to catch their breath and take vacation, @dvocacy Inc., which specializes in online political organizing, has upped its staff, opened a new office and is busier than ever.

Despite expectations of a slow period, business is hopping in the online world, said founder Roger Alan Stone.

The three-year-old firm’s staff has increased from nine employees last Election Day to 15, with more hires expected next month.

Stone and Rob Stuart, founder of the firm TechRocks, recently brought aboard Peter Schurman, founding executive director of, to help @dvocacy expand.

Ramsay Adams, formerly online media director for Fenton Communications, now heads up the New York office. Cynthia Samuels left iVillage to become a content producer.

John Purcell was named chief operating officer. Rachel Brachman, a former state coordinator with the Florida League of Conservation Voters, manages campaign technology, while Daniel Hazard, a former aide to Rep. Susan Davis (D-Calif.) serves as director of constituent communications.

In the meantime, Brittany Farbo leaves American Coming Together and EMILY’s List to head up campaigns and caucuses, while Hilary Zwerdling, who worked on the failed Senate campaign of then-Rep. Joe Hoeffel (D-Pa.), was named online organizer and strategist.

The company has offices in Washington, Philadelphia and, as of this spring, New York.

Stone, a Democratic operative who previously founded the Juno Advocacy Network, said there are three main reasons for the heavy workload.

First, he said, “neither side has really demobilized” since last November’s

elections. In addition, candidates, organizations and politicians are focusing on their Internet components much earlier in the process than they had before. And @dvocacy Inc. has launched new products.

Advokit, its online field program, was used in Pennsylvania’s local primary elections in May and has been tested in referendum efforts, he said.

The package focuses on get-out-the-vote drives. For example, it allows campaign volunteers to log on at home, access their call list and note responses in real time while someone at the campaign monitors the action and ensures that no one is missed.

Another key tool is text messaging, he said.

Participants sign up with an organization to receive text alerts as part of their rapid response team, Stone said.

Members can patch into their Senator or Congressman’s office with the click of a cell phone button.

Stone’s firm has also amassed a database of 30 million registered voters’ e-mail addresses.

The California Assembly just purchased the entire California list to help state lawmakers keep in better contact with their constituents, he said.

Surf’s Up. Brandon Hall will be taking his act from the mountains to the beach, assuming campaign manager responsibilities for Francine Busby, the Democrat who’s seeking to replace retiring Rep. Duke Cunningham (R-Calif.) in the San Diego-area 50th district.

Hall is currently the political director for the Service Employees International Union in the mountain region.

During the 2004 cycle, Hall was the director of the committee charged with electing Democrats to the Colorado state Senate. As it turned out, Democrats unexpectedly seized not one but two chambers last November. He has also been a finance director to other political campaigns.

Sheridan Rides In. Mike Sheridan has been elevated from political director to executive director of the Washington State Republican Party.

He succeeds Peter Abbarno, who is leaving to attend law school.

Sheridan was an aide to then-Sen. Slade Gorton (R-Wash.) and worked on the unsuccessful 1996 and 1998 campaigns of former Rep. Rick White (R-Wash.).

He has also worked in the Education Department as deputy assistant secretary for legislation and Congressional affairs.

Separately, Tim Kovis has come on board to oversee voter identification and registration.

Prior to joining the state party, Kovis served as a field coordinator for the 2004 campaign of Rep. Doc Hastings (R-Wash.).

High-Dollar Assignment. Nicole Sexton, outgoing finance director at the National Republican Senatorial Committee, will not leave the committee entirely.

As Linda Bond takes over Sexton’s duties, Sexton will continue on as a consultant to the NRSC “for high-dollar events, such as the Senate Majority Dinner in the fall,” according to an NRSC news release.

“Under Sexton’s leadership during the 2004 cycle, the NRSC raised an impressive $75 million in hard money,” the release stated.

“Nicole has done an outstanding job and was an integral part of the four seats that the NRSC picked up in 2004,” NRSC Chairwoman Elizabeth Dole (R-N.C.) said. “Linda will be an invaluable member of our team for the rest of the cycle.”

Homecoming. State Rep. Bill Dix (R) has snagged a key Bush-Cheney 2004 operative for his bid for Iowa’s open 1st district House seat.

Terry Nelson, a native of Marshalltown, Iowa, will serve as general consultant to Dix’s campaign. Nelson is the founder of Crosslink Strategy Group in Washington, D.C., the Quad City Times reported this week.

So far, six candidates — three Democrats and three Republicans — are vying to replace Rep. Jim Nussle (R-Iowa), who is running for governor next year.

Fall Fellows. Harvard University’s Institute of Politics at the John F. Kennedy School of Government has named seven journalists, lawmakers and operatives as resident fellows for the fall semester.

They are former Sen. Bob Graham (D-Fla.); former Rep. Martin Frost (D-Texas); Lisa Davis, who served the 1996 Clinton-Gore campaign as a communications counsel; Joe Gaylord, a veteran Republican strategist; Benjamin Ginsberg, a partner with Patton Boggs and counsel to the 2000 and 2004 Bush-Cheney campaigns; Cheryl Jacques, former head of the Human Rights Campaign; and Adam Nagourney, chief political correspondent for the New York Times.

Josh Kurtz contributed to this report.

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