Shop Talk: The Early Candidate Gets the Good Pollster

Posted January 21, 2009 at 6:03pm

With Senate Republicans looking at another tough cycle, National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman John Cornyn (Texas) said at a press conference last week he is encouraging his colleagues to hire their consulting teams early.

[IMGCAP(1)]“I understand that a couple of the 2010 incumbents have already hired campaign managers,” Cornyn said. “Ordinarily, I can tell you as a candidate myself, you wouldn’t want to go to that expense any earlier than you had to, but I think under the circumstances, they’re wise to do so.”

Cornyn cited unexpectedly competitive 2008 Senate races in Mississippi and North Carolina as places where Republicans had to play catch-up to Democrats, and he stressed it was important for his colleagues to be prepared.

And so far, it appears Senate Republicans are heeding his words.

In preparation for his re-election campaign, Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) has retained Glen Bolger of Public Opinion Strategies to do his polling, along with Doug McAuliffe of McAuliffe Message Media.

Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) has tapped Justin Brasell to be his campaign manager in 2010, according to GOP sources. Thune won one of the closest and most expensive races in the country in 2004 against then-Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D). A veteran of campaigns, Brasell just finished managing Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-Ky.) successful re-election bid.

In the open-seat race to replace Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.), who is retiring and will most likely run for governor, Rep. Jerry Moran (R) has retained Scott Howell of Scott Howell & Co. to do his media, along with Bolger as his pollster. Moran has used both Howell and Bolger for his past House campaigns, according to his spokesman Travis Murphy.

Rep. Todd Tiahrt (R) is also seriously looking at a bid for Brownback’s seat.

Democrats are beginning to hire staff in preparation for 2010 campaigns as well.

Rep. Kendrick Meek (D-Fla.) has announced he is running for retiring Sen. Mel Martinez’s (R) seat — and has tapped Steve Hildebrand of

Hildebrand Tewes as a senior consultant. As first reported by the Miami Herald, Hildebrand joined Meek’s campaign after serving as President Barack Obama’s deputy campaign manager in 2008.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has reportedly tapped Brandon Hall to be his campaign manager for 2010. Hall recently advised Sen. Mark Begich’s (D-Alaska) victorious campaign over then-Sen. Ted Stevens (R), who was found guilty on seven felony counts one week before Election Day.

Have A Nice Trippi. Democratic consultant Joe Trippi announced on the liberal Web site Daily Kos on Wednesday that he is working for former state Del. Brian Moran’s gubernatorial campaign in Virginia. Trippi will be the media consultant and general strategist for Moran, who is in a three-way primary against former Democratic Party Chairman Terry McAuliffe and state Sen. Creigh Deeds in 2009.

Moran has also tapped Al Quinlan of Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research to do his polling and Mission Control’s Ed Peavy for direct-mail services. A press release from the campaign also announced Jerome Armstrong as the new media consultant.

McAuliffe announced earlier that he had hired Mo Elleithee, who served as a senior spokesman to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s (D-N.Y.) presidential campaign and also worked on the 2001 gubernatorial campaign of now-Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), to advise his first statewide bid for office.

David Smith, Susan DiLiddo Michels and Jim Margolis of GMMB will handle McAuliffe’s media, while Pete Brodnitz of Benenson Strategy Group will be polling for the campaign. MSHC Partners President Hal Malchow will do McAuliffe’s direct mail, along with Trish Hoppey. According to a release from the campaign, Eli Kaplan will serve new media director and John Rohrbach of Bullseye Interactive Media will be his new media consultant.

Deeds has tapped Dave Petts of Bennett, Petts and Normington to do his polling, according to campaign spokesman Peter Jackson. David Dixon of Dixon/Davis Media Group will do Deeds’ media, while Kevin Mack of the Mack/Crounse Group will do his direct mail.

Sires-ous New Assignment. Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Chris Van Hollen (Md.) announced Wednesday that Rep. Albio Sires (D-N.J.) will serve as his vice chairman in charge of member participation and outreach during the 2010 campaign cycle.

In that post, Sires will be charged with coordinating the political activities and fundraising efforts of Democratic Members. He will also oversee the dues program and be charged with reaching out to Democratic groups in what is expected to be a cycle in which House Democrats will largely be playing defense. Some of those groups include the Congressional Black Caucus and the Blue Dogs.

Sires, a third-term Congressman, is the third and final vice chairman to be named by Van Hollen. In December, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (Fla.) was tapped to manage incumbent retention for House Democrats in 2010, and earlier this month Rep. Bruce Braley (D-Iowa) was named vice chairman in charge of candidate services.

“Congressman Sires is a strategic thinker who has the respect and relationships within our Caucus and with our allies to encourage the active political participation of our Members throughout the cycle,” Van Hollen said in a statement.

Moira’s Got a Brand New Bagley. Moira Bagley, a former staffer in the Republican National Committee’s 2008 media shop, has started work at New Majority. The invention of conservative author David Frum, is a new Web site launched on Inauguration Day and dedicated to the rebirth of the Republican Party.

Bagley, a Roll Call alumna, will serve as an investigative reporter for the Web site, which will feature commentary, blogs and videos targeted to conservatives.

AKPD, Axed. President Barack Obama’s lead strategist David Axelrod has sold his ownership stake in his Chicago-based firm AKPD Message and Media.

The Washington Post reported that AKPD will continue under John Kupper, David Plouffe and John Del Cecato but will also add Larry Grisolano from the Strategy Group as a managing partner.

Kaine, Willing and Able. Democratic National Committee members have elected Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) as their vice chairwoman for the next four years under Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine (D), who took the reins as chairman this week.

Rep. Mike Honda (D-Calif.) was re-elected as vice chairman for another four-year term under Kaine, along with fellow vice chairwoman Linda Chavez-Thompson. Alice Travis Germond was re-election DNC secretary, while Andrew Tobias was selected to continue as the committee’s treasurer.

DNC members voted at the meeting to make Democratic strategist and Roll Call contributing writer Donna Brazile their vice chairwoman for voter registration and participation, and Jane Stetson was elected national finance chair.

John McArdle contributed to this report.

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