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Florida: Harrell Loses Campaign Manager in GOP Race

The campaign of state Rep. Gayle Harrell, one of several Republicans looking to knock off freshman Rep. Tim Mahoney (D) in November, suffered a setback last week.

Brian Brooks, Harrell’s campaign manager, abruptly quit the campaign last Friday. Randy Nielsen, a consultant for Harrell’s campaign, said his firm, Public Concepts, is assuming most of the day-to-day campaign management duties until a replacement is named.

Nielsen declined to elaborate on Brooks’ sudden departure.

“He decided to pursue other stuff,” Nielsen said. “It was an amicable parting.”

Harrell faces Pittsburgh Steelers’ heir Tom Rooney and Palm Beach Gardens City Councilman Hal Valeche in the Sunshine State’s Aug. 26 Republican primary. The three candidates, who had between $270,000 and $396,000 in cash as of Jan. 1, will post their first-quarter 2008 fundraising totals within weeks.

Nielsen declined to discuss fundraising specifics, other than to say that Harrell is experiencing her “best fundraising quarter ever.”

DCCC Adds Jennings to Its Red to Blue Program

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has named former bank executive Christine Jennings to its “Red to Blue” fundraising and infrastructure program, Jennings announced Friday.

“I am honored to be named to this critical program, which will help us take what we’ve started right here in Florida to the next level and continue bringing our message of change to the voters in the 13th Congressional district,” Jennings said.

Jennings, whose 2008 rerun has experienced a series of recent setbacks, will face Rep. Vern Buchanan (R) again in November. He defeated Jennings by just 369 votes. The close result led to a protracted fight, as Jennings sought to prove that she lost the election because of faulty electronic voting equipment.

A National Republican Congressional Committee poll released last week showed Buchanan with a significant lead. Most recently, Jennings’ campaign manager, Mitch Kates, a former professional wrestler, stepped aside for family issues.

Kates has been replaced with New York-based consultant Lonny Paris.
— Matthew Murray

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