Shop Talk: Forti-Fied

Posted January 14, 2009 at 5:59pm

Veteran Republican operative Carl Forti has joined forces with Mike Dubke to form a new consulting firm for strategic communications and public affairs.

[IMGCAP(1)]“We’ll look to help clients with public policy campaigns, message campaigns, grass-roots efforts, crisis management,” Forti said.

Forti most recently served as vice president of issue advocacy for Freedom’s Watch, the conservative group that sought to boost GOP House and Senate candidates in 2008. Forti arrived there after his work as political director for former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign. Previously he worked for seven and a half years at the National Republican Congressional Committee, serving as communications director in the 2004 and 2006 cycles as well as running the committee’s independent expenditure program.

Dubke founded the media-buying firm Crossroads Media in 2001. His résumé also includes stints serving as president of Americans for Job Security and as the executive director of the

Ripon Society and the Ripon Educational Fund.

The new firm, Black Rock Group, is named for a neighborhood in Buffalo, N.Y. — the hometown of Forti and Dubke. The duo has settled on another waterfront town, Alexandria, Va., to house the new office.

New NRCC Blood. The National Republican Congressional Committee continued to expand its 2010 staff Wednesday with the addition of four new top employees.

Paul Lindsay will serve as deputy communications director. Lindsay was recently a regional spokesman for Sen. John McCain’s (R-Ariz.) presidential campaign in Ohio and Pennsylvania, following press gigs with the Republican National Committee and Rep. Charles Boustany (R-La.).

Sally McAllister will be the committee’s new political action committee director after most recently serving in the same role for Constellation Energy. Prior to that, McAllister was vice president of political affairs for Epiphany Productions Inc., where her duties included serving as a fundraising consultant for the NRCC and several Members, including GOP Reps. Joe Barton (Texas), Ken Calvert (Calif.), Fred Upton (Mich.) and former Rep. Jim Walsh (N.Y).

Shahla Seaborn will be the new director of the major donor programs, following her recent work as a fundraising consultant for McCain’s campaign and the RNC in 2008. Seaborn also served as the northeast finance director for former New York Mayor Rudy Guiliani’s (R) presidential campaign.

The director of field finance is Trent Edwards, who served in the same capacity at the committee in the 2008 cycle. This is Edwards’ third cycle at the NRCC, where he began as a field finance representative in 2006.

Mo’ People to Hilltop. Hilltop Public Solutions has brought on Ken Morley as a partner to start up its Missouri office. Morley has worked for several Democrats across the country, including Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon’s 2008 campaign, Maryland Sen. Benjamin Cardin’s 2006 campaign and Rep. Allyson Schwartz’s (Pa.) first Congressional bid in 2004.

David Kieve is also returning to the firm after his successful management of Rep. Paul Hodes’ (D-N.H.) re-election campaign. Also in the 2008 cycle, Kieve served as the New Hampshire political director for former Sen. John Edwards’ (D-N.C.) presidential campaign.

Intersection of Davis & Main. Former Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.) was recently elected president of the board of directors for the Republican Main Street Partnership.

Davis will run the moderate GOP group in addition to his full-time job as director of federal government services at Deloitte Consulting, MSP spokesman Chris Barron said.

“The 2006 and 2008 election results make it clear that the Republican Party must — once again — reach out to independent and centrist voters if we are to restore our Congressional majorities and return a Republican to the White House,” Davis said in a statement.

The Virginia Republican chaired the NRCC for two consecutive cycles, 2000 and 2002, when Republicans gained seats in the House. Davis was elected to succeed former Rep. Charlie Bass (R-N.H.), who, after two years of heading the group, will continue to serve on its board.

A Straight Choice. The Republican Majority for Choice has tapped Candy Straight and Susan Bevan to head up the organization — and one of the new co-chairwomen did not mince words for the current slate of candidates running for Republican National Committee chairmanship.

Straight, who co-founded The WISH List, a fund that backs Republican women who support abortion rights, said she found the current crop of candidates to be “pretty discouraging” in terms of their agendas for female voters — a bloc that she says makes up 53 percent of the electorate.

“I’m troubled by the presentation because they seem to be talking to a very narrow part of the Republican Party, and you have to question whether they have the ability to win a national election,” Straight said in a phone interview.

Though not a voting member of the RNC, Straight attended a recent debate among all the candidates.

“They were very big on telling you how many guns are in their closet, but women are very concerned about how they’re going to keep their jobs,” she said.

Straight said she views former Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael Steele (R) to be the most promising candidate in a field that includes current RNC Chairman Mike Duncan, former Tennessee GOP Chairman Chip Saltsman, former Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell, Michigan GOP Chairman Saul Anuzis and South Carolina GOP Chairman Katon Dawson.

Bevan and Straight replace outgoing co-chairwomen Jennifer Blei Stockman and Dina Merrill, who have headed the group since 2002.

Quigley’s Quest. Cook County Commissioner Mike Quigley (D), running in the special election in Illinois’ 5th district, has tapped Tom Bowen to run his campaign. Bowen ran Rep. Bill Foster’s (D-Ill.) special election win in 2008 and is an alumni of President-elect Barack Obama’s presidential and Senate campaigns.

Bowen reports Quigley has also brought on Pete Giangreco of the Strategy Group to do campaign strategy, Saul Shorr and Adam Magnus of Shorr Johnson Magnus to do media, and John Anzalone of Anzalone Liszt Research as campaign pollster.

Perfectly Poized. California state Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner (R) has tapped the Stevens and Schriefer Group for strategy and media for his 2010 gubernatorial exploratory campaign.

Stuart Stevens and Russ Schriefer are known for their work on President George W. Bush’s presidential campaigns, as well as helping to elect former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge (R) and Florida Gov. Charlie Crist (R).

Poizner also announced that Wayne Johnson of Johnson Clark Associates Inc. will be a senior strategist for his statewide effort, following a successful job running his 2006 campaign for insurance commissioner.

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