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Shop Talk: The Name’s Bonjean

Sara Bonjean has left the Republican National Committee to open the Washington, D.C., offices of GR Seppala and Associates, a GOP fundraising firm based in Minnesota.

[IMGCAP(1)]Bonjean started work last week as director of Washington fundraising for the firm, which raises money for Republican Members, plus political and not-for-profit groups.

Bonjean reports she is working with Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.), and GR Seppala also counts House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) and Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) as clients.

The Wyoming native had been the RNC’s director of events and external affairs for more than two years. Prior to the RNC, she worked in government affairs for Anheuser-Busch and for then-Sen. Craig Thomas (R-Wyo.) for two years on Capitol Hill.

Gregg’s Gambit. Missouri Republican operative Gregg Keller is heading to Connecticut to run former Ambassador to Ireland Tom Foley’s (R) 2010 campaign for Senate.

Keller was reportedly set to work for former Missouri Treasurer Sarah Steelman (R), who has been talking about running for Senate in the Show-Me State but has yet to announce a bid. A longtime staffer for former Sen. Jim Talent (R-Mo.), Keller ran Talent’s unsuccessful re-election campaign in 2006. He was also the national coalitions director for former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney’s (R) bid for president.

Foley is one of several Republicans, including ex-Rep. Rob Simmons, looking to challenge Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) in 2010.

Nice Work if You Can Get It. Cullen Sheehan, who until recently was Minnesota Republican Norm Coleman’s 2008 campaign manager, has started his new gig as a regional political director at the Republican National Committee. The one-term Senator’s fate should be decided any day now, when the Minnesota Supreme Court is expected to rule in favor of Democrat Al Franken in the seven-month-long litigious recount battle following the 2008 election.

Sheehan is at least the second Coleman staffer to leave the campaign for the RNC. Coleman’s former communications director, LeRoy Coleman, has taken a job as director of media affairs at the committee.

In related news, the Minnesota Republican Party will change its leadership on July 1, when incoming Chairman Tony Sutton will take the reins of the organization. Michael Brodkorb will serve as deputy chairman and David Sturrock will be secretary-treasurer.

Casey at Bat. Erin Casey, a former fundraiser for GOP state parties and campaign committees, has opened her own shop. Casey is already advising the Montana Republican Party and Marine Corps veteran Vaughn Ward (R), who is challenging freshman Rep. Walt Minnick (D-Idaho) in 2010.

“I combine knowledge of grass-roots fundraising, large-scale local events, day-to-day efforts and finance planning,— Casey said.

Casey hails from Indiana, but she came to Washington, D.C., by way of the Maryland Republican Party in the 2004 cycle. She worked for the field finance program at the National Republican Congressional Committee in the 2006 cycle and was director of special projects at the National Republican Senatorial Committee from 2007 until recently.

When the Baughman Breaks. The Baughman Co. has opened an office on Capitol Hill at 209 Pennsylvania Ave. SE.

The firm’s new hire and Washington director, Achim Bergmann, said the location was picked for its proximity to several Member clients and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Not only does the firm count Democratic Reps. Jerry McNerney (Calif.), Joe Donnelly (Ind.), David Scott (Ga.), Allen Boyd (Fla.), John Yarmuth (Ky.), Phil Hare (Ill.) and Mike Ross (Ark.) as clients, but it has also worked with the DCCC’s independent expenditure arm for the past two cycles.

Bergmann was tapped to open and manage the San Francisco-based company’s Washington office earlier this year. A four-year veteran of the Democratic National Committee, Bergmann has also advised the Democratic Governors Association and was the western political director at the DCCC in the 2006 cycle.

Major Deeds. Virginia Democratic gubernatorial nominee Creigh Deeds has hired a who’s who list of national and Old Dominion operatives for his campaign against Republican Bob McDonnell in November. A memo last week from Deeds Campaign Manager Joe Abbey detailed the new hires, many of whom came from the campaigns of Deeds’ primary opponents, former Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe and former state Del. Brian Moran:

• Former Virginia Democratic Party Executive Director Levar Stoney will be the campaign’s political director.

• Matt Felan, a longtime fundraiser for Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine (D), will be finance director. Dave Miller, a veteran of Moran’s finance team, will join Felan on the fundraising staff.

• Hailey Arends, who had been McAuliffe’s director of compliance, will be Deeds’ chief financial officer.

• Mark Giangreco, another former McAuliffe staffer, will be policy director.

• Former Democratic National Committee Research Director and communications staffer Mike Gehrke will be Deeds’ communications director.

• Kevin Hall will take leave from Sen. Mark Warner’s (D-Va.) staff to advise the Deeds campaign.

• State Democratic Party Communications Director Jared Leopold will be the campaign’s press secretary.

• Julie Copeland, a former state Senate Democratic caucus director, will be the intergovernmental relations director.

• Kate Sokolov is the new-media director.

• J.J. Minor is the new outreach director.

Blackrock and Roll. Brent Blackaby and Larry Huynh of Blackrock Associates, a California-based firm that specializes in Internet campaigns, have released their client list for the 2009 and 2010 elections, and it includes several statewide races.

Blackaby is doing consulting for Rep. Artur Davis’ (D-Ala.) gubernatorial bid, along with the re-election campaigns of Democratic Sens. Barbara Boxer (Calif.), Patty Murray (Wash.) and Patrick Leahy (Vt.). Blackaby, with the help of Debra Bowen and Mike Disharoon, is also advising another online guru, former executive Chris Kelly (D), who is running for attorney general in California.

Huynh is consulting for the re-election campaigns of Sens. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.) and Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) in 2010, as well as the Democratic nominee for governor in Virginia, Creigh Deeds, this year. Huynh and Disharoon are advising Ohio Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher’s (D) bid for Senate in 2010, and Huynh is working with Jamie Ruth on Gov. Bill Ritter’s (D) re-election campaign in Colorado.

Goodbye, Annie. Faulkner Strategies’ Annie Palisi, who works on political business development for the GOP mail firm, is taking a leave of absence to go to Iraq.

Palisi will take the next year to help work with the democracy program in Iraq, where she spent time last winter training and supporting democracy missions.

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