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Cole Taps Colleagues for Key NRCC Positions

National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Tom Cole (Okla.) filled out the campaign operation’s executive committee on Tuesday, with 40 Members tapped to play strategic and fundraising roles for the 2008 cycle.

Cole previously had announced Rep. Tom Davis (Va.) as chairman, Chief Deputy Minority Whip Eric Cantor (Va.) as finance chairman and Rep. Patrick McHenry (N.C.) as finance vice chairman.

Additional Members now include Rep. Marsha Blackburn (Tenn.) as communications chairwoman. Blackburn was an unsuccessful candidate for House Republican Conference chairwoman earlier this year.

Rep. John Kline (Minn.) will act as management chairman; Rep. Mike Conaway (Texas) — a certified public accountant — will be in charge of auditing; Rep. Bob Goodlatte (Va.) will run incumbent retention; McHenry also will run the independent expenditures task force; and Rep. Candice Miller (Mich.) will head up candidate recruitment.

An additional 31 Members will serve on the executive committee, including all of the elected leadership, former Speaker Dennis Hastert (Ill.) and Reps. Tom Reynolds (N.Y.) and John Linder (Ga.), both former NRCC chairmen.

Cole’s opponents in the NRCC race, Reps. Pete Sessions (Texas) and Phil English (Pa.), also will serve on the committee. Rep. Jeb Hensarling (Texas), chairman of the Republican Study Committee, also is on the panel.

Freshman GOP Reps. Kevin McCarthy (Calif.) and Mary Fallin (Okla.) are members, as is Del. Luis Fortuño (R-P.R.). Additional members include GOP Reps. Gresham Barrett (S.C.), Ginny Brown-Waite (Fla.), Mike Castle (Del.), Virginia Foxx (N.C.), Phil Gingrey (Ga.), Darrell Issa (Calif.), Howard McKeon (Calif.), Cathy McMorris Rodgers (Wash.), Jeff Miller (Fla.), Jon Porter (Nev.), Bill Shuster (Pa.), Patrick Tiberi (Ohio), Jerry Weller (Ill.), Lynn Westmoreland (Ga.) and Roger Wicker (Miss.).

However, this list and involvement at the NRCC is not exclusive. In a brief interview, Miller said she expected to tap an additional 20 members from across the geographic regions to serve on a recruitment subcommittee.

“I’m going to do whatever I have to do,” Miller said, adding that she would like to work more effectively to find strong women and minority candidates to reflect a “big-tent” Republican Party.

She acknowledged that Republicans took electoral hits heavily in the Northeast, and she said she would be working to field strong candidates to win back some of those seats. “We’re going to look to that region very heavily,” she said, “We will cede no territory.”

Initially, Republicans will be seeking candidates for the 60 districts held by Democrats that President Bush won in 2004. Since many of those five-dozen Democrats are entrenched incumbents, it will be an uphill climb for recruitment efforts.

“They’ve got a lot more vulnerables than we do,” Miller said. “All of ours have been swept out.”

On the staff front, the NRCC has hired Brian Walsh to serve as national field director. Walsh most recently worked as the political director for unsuccessful GOP Senate candidate Tom Kean Jr. (N.J.). He is a former chief of staff to Brown-Waite and has served previous stints at the NRCC as a field representative and as a staffer for the incumbent retention program.

Additionally, Heather Patterson will serve as the director of major donor programs. Patterson most recently worked at the Republican National Committee.

At the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, Jon Vogel will serve as political director for the 2008 cycle. In the 2006 cycle, Vogel served as the DCCC’s political director for the Northeast region, where the party picked up a significant number of seats.

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