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Karen White, who spent the previous two election cycles as the political director at EMILY’s List, is moving on to head a new campaigns and elections department at the National Education Association, the teachers union with 3.2 million members. [IMGCAP(1)]

The new unit, which has a staff of six including White, will focus not just on political races but on ballot measures across the country and on grass-roots issue advocacy, said John Stocks, an NEA spokesman.

“We went out and openly recruited Karen because she is one of the top political talents in the country,” Stocks said.

Before joining EMILY’s List in 2003, White held several political and government positions in Maryland and has run campaigns across the country. She comes from a long line of teachers, including her mother, Nancy White, who spent 15 years as a staff representative to the Michigan Education Association.

Nancy White also was a longtime county commissioner in Macomb County, Mich., a suburb of Detroit. But she isn’t Karen White’s only familial tie to the political world: her husband, Robert Johnson, is a seasoned political operative who is a partner in a Statehouse lobbying firm in Annapolis, Md., and is doing some work on the side for the presidential campaign of New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson (D).

Karen White will start her NEA gig in early April. EMILY’s List, the organization dedicated to electing Democratic women who support abortion rights, is expected to name a new political director next week.

Poe, Say Can You See? Jonathan Poe has signed on as a partner with Anthem Media, a Republican consulting firm, where he will focus on building the firm’s business and providing general and media consulting services to its clients.

Poe, who served as deputy political director for the National Republican Congressional Committee during the 2004 and 2006 cycles, said he chose Anthem because he felt it was a good fit.

“It’s a great firm, and played a major role in helping us grow the majority,” Poe said Wednesday.

Anthem, based in Austin, Texas, has an office in Nashville, and recently opened a branch in Washington, D.C., where Poe will be headquartered.

Mess With the Bull, Get the Thorns. Doug Thornell has been hired away from his private gig with The LawMedia Group to serve as national press secretary for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

Before signing on with LawMedia, where he has been for the past two years, Thornell served as deputy political director for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and communications director for the Congressional Black Caucus.

Thornell, a political communications veteran, also worked for former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean’s (D) 2004 presidential campaign, serving as the traveling press secretary for the man who is now chairman of the Democratic National Committee.

I’d Rather Be in Philadelphia. The Baughman Co., a Democratic direct-mail firm, has opened up an office in Philadelphia. Kevin Geary, the firm’s political director, has been tasked with running the new office.

Before joining Baughman in 2001, Geary worked as communications director to Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.). The Baughman Co. is based in San Francisco.

Dorinson Opens Doors. Patrick Dorinson has left his position as communications director of the California Republican Party to open PD Communications in Sacramento, Calif.

He plans to specialize in public affairs, political communications, and crisis management, among other services.

Dorinson, a former Democrat, was an aide on now-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s (R) 2003 recall campaign before going to work in the Schwarzenegger administration and then for the state GOP.

I Want Reliable People; People Who Aren’t Gonna Be Carried Away. The Republican National Committee has unveiled its full slate of regional political directors and regional press secretaries for the 2008 cycle.

Also, Jessica Ennis has been named deputy political director for the whole committee; Shawn Reinschmiedt has been hired as director of research and deputy communications director; Chris Walker has been named deputy research director; and Brian Walton, formerly of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, has been named director of media affairs.

The RNC’s political directors in particular are considered key staff members because they have the primary responsibility for executing the committee’s lauded get-out-the-vote effort, including the 72-hour program that is credited with helping President Bush win Ohio — and therefore the presidency — in 2004.

The following individuals were named to the RNC’s communications and political teams, respectively.

On the communications team, Camille Anderson is regional press secretary for the West; Summer Johnson is regional press secretary for the Northeast; Chris Taylor is regional press secretary for the Midwest; Amber Wilkerson is regional press secretary for the Southeast; and Michelle Richmond is assistant press secretary.

On the political team, Christopher Carr is regional political director for the Northwest; Sue Forrester is regional political director for the Midwest and Northern Plains; Christopher McNulty is regional political director for the Great Lakes; John Gibson is regional political director for the Mid-Atlantic; and Clint Reed is regional political director for the Southeast.

Additionally, Randy Bumps will remain the regional political director for the Northeast, while Jay McCleskey and Randy Enwright will continue to serve in the same capacities, respectively, for the Southwest and Florida.

New Veep at Mellman. The Mellman Group, a Democratic consulting firm in D.C., has promoted Nathan Henry to vice president. Henry has headed the firm’s Midwest office since 2005.

Henry specializes in polling, focus groups and ad testing for candidates and political organizations.

His clients at Mellman have included the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer (D).

Lauren W. Whittington contributed to this report.

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