Shop Talk: Back to the Future

Posted December 10, 2008 at 5:34pm

Republican titan John H. Sununu is taking over the Granite state GOP. Outgoing New Hampshire Republican Party Chairman Fergus Cullen is stepping aside for Sununu, who was governor of the state in the 1980s before becoming President George H.W. Bush’s chief of staff.

[IMGCAP(1)]Cullen will step aside when his term ends in January, and Sununu, 69, will assume the top post. Cullen said in a statement that he was prepared to run the party for another two years, but Sununu’s candidacy left him no choice but to give up the top spot.

Even though Sununu comes to the job with years of experience, he will have his work cut out for him: Over the past two years in New Hampshire, Democrats have won both House seats and the Senate seat held by Sununu’s son, outgoing Sen. John Sununu. Democrats have seized control of the Legislature and turned the Granite State into a Democratic stronghold on the presidential level. One of the elder Sununu’s foremost challenges will be aiding Sen. Judd Gregg’s (R-N.H.) re-election in 2010.

But Republicans aren’t the only ones changing the guard in the Granite State. New Hampshire Democrats announced recently that leaders picked Michael Brunelle to be their party’s executive director.

At 24 years old, Brunelle is one of the youngest party leaders in the country. He was political director for New Hampshire Democrats in the 2008 cycle, after serving as a Manchester selectman and as a state Representative.

Moving on From MoveOn. Longtime liberal communications specialist Trevor FitzGibbon announced last week that he has left Fenton Communications in Washington, D.C., to start his own firm, FitzGibbon Media.

FitzGibbon has spoken for years on behalf of left-leaning third-party groups, including, in addition to his media work for the One Campaign and a stint as the New Mexico communications director for President-elect Barack Obama’s primary campaign.

FitzGibbon said his first two clients are Global Zero, a group of world leaders dedicated to ridding the world of nuclear weapons, and the pro-environment group Conservation International., the One Campaign, Health Care for American Now, Americans Against Escalation in Iraq, Women’s Voices Women Vote and others clients will remain with the Fenton Communications team, and the Fenton spokesmen for these groups include Doug Gordon, Alex Howe and Emma Mackinnon.

Big Field, Big Tent? At the end of January, Republicans will have a wide-open vote for their next Republican National Committee chairman for the first time in more than a decade. Over the course of what is expected to be several rounds of balloting, 168 RNC members will pick the person who they hope will lead their party out of the political wilderness.

When Republicans held the White House, the president typically nominated someone for the spot and committee members approved the pick. But with President George W. Bush leaving office in a matter of weeks, the open field includes the incumbent and a bevy of former candidates and state party operatives:

• Current Republican National Committee Chairman Mike Duncan

• Former Tennessee Republican Party Chairman Chip Saltsman, a development director under then-Sen. Bill Frist’s (Tenn.) 2002 tenure at the National Republican Senatorial Committee

• Former Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael Steele, an unsuccessful Senate candidate in 2006 and current chairman of GOPAC

• South Carolina Republican Party Chairman Katon Dawson

• Former Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell, who lost a gubernatorial bid in 2006

• Michigan Republican Party Chairman Saul Anuzis

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