Skip to content

Shop Talk: Dream of Californication

Sarah Pompei is leaving Sen. Mike Johanns’ (R-Neb.) press office on Capitol Hill for her home state of California, where she will be eBay founder Meg Whitman’s press secretary for her 2010 gubernatorial bid. Pompei, a former regional spokeswoman for ex-Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney’s (R) presidential campaign, was Johanns’ press secretary during his 2008 Senate race.

[IMGCAP(1)]But Pompei isn’t the only former Romney staffer headed to Whitman’s campaign — or even to a California gubernatorial campaign. Not surprisingly, Whitman was one of Romney’s closest allies and fundraisers for his 2008 presidential campaign, and several of the former Massachusetts governor’s staffers have headed West.

Whitman Political Director and Deputy Campaign Manager Todd Cranney served as a regional political director on the Romney campaign, and consultant Don Stirling served on the former governor’s finance team.

Senior Adviser Spencer Zwick was Romney’s finance director and was so close to the former governor that many have called him his “sixth son.— Senior Finance Adviser Joanne Davis managed Romney’s statewide fundraising operation in California.

Meanwhile, several more former Romney staffers have left for the Golden State to work on the campaign of Whitman’s primary opponent, Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner (R).

Poizner Campaign Manager Jim Bognet was Romney’s economic policy director, while Deputy Campaign Manager Audrey Perry served as

deputy general counsel for the former governor’s national campaign. Poizner Policy Director Lanhee Chen was Romney’s health care policy adviser.

Tom’s Team. Georgia state Rep. Tom Graves, one of several Republicans seeking to succeed Rep. Nathan Deal (R), announced that he has put his consulting team and lead staff in place for his bid. Deal, who has represented the heavily Republican 9th district for nine terms, is stepping down to run for governor in 2010.

DMN Media’s Pat McCarthy and Mike McElwain will direct and produce media for the campaign. McCarthy and McElwain are veterans of the National Republican Congressional Committee, where they worked as the lead media consultant and political director, respectively, from 2000 to 2006.

Dave Sackett of the Tarrance Group will be the campaign’s pollster, according to a press release from the campaign. Ron Butler of Creative Direct will handle voter contact mail for Graves’ campaign.

General Consultant Scott Rials will lead Graves’ bid, while Ericka Pertierra will serve as finance director.

Campaign Manager Tim Baker is a former chief of staff for ex-Rep. Max Burns (R-Ga.) and serves as a partner at Capitol Strategy Group. Fellow Capitol Strategy Group Partners Diana Klenske Kincaid and Laura Willis Dunaway will handle Graves’ fundraising.

Political Adviser Justin Tomczak was political director for Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) and Gov. Sonny Perdue (R).

Sho-Me the FCC. Shomik Dutta is heading over to the Federal Communications Commission, where he will be a special adviser to new Chairman Julius Genachowski, according to a source familiar with the hiring.

Dutta is currently a special assistant to Greg Craig in the White House Counsel’s Office but is a veteran of President Barack Obama’s presidential fundraising team. Dutta was the mid-Atlantic finance director for Obama’s campaign and worked for Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley’s (D) successful 2006 race.

New Media, New Hires. New Media Strategy has added three more staffers to its ranks, according to a release from the company.

Erin Hofteig will join the public affairs practice at NMS as a strategic manager. She comes from Media Matters, where she was director of new media.

Nisha Chittal and Charles Juckett will be online analysts at the firm’s corporate practice. In addition to her new post at NMS, Chittal is an associate editor at Juckett is a specialist in online automotive communities and comes from Boost Labs, where he was a marketing manager.

What About Bob? After Virginia state Sen. Creigh Deeds became the Democratic gubernatorial nominee last month, he wasted little time settling on his general election campaign team. But his opponent, former state Attorney General Bob McDonnell (R), didn’t have a contested primary and already had his staff in place:

• Campaign Chairman Ed Gillespie is a former senior adviser to President George W. Bush and ex-chairman of the Republican National Committee.

• Pollster Glen Bolger is the co-founder of Public Opinion Strategies — one of the top Republican survey firms in the country.

• Media Strategist Doug McAuliffe founded the media firm McAuliffe Message Media, a prominent and successful GOP advertisement consulting and production firm.

• Campaign Manager Phil Cox was McDonnell’s general consultant and is a veteran GOP operative in the state.

• Deputy Campaign Manager Mike Reynold is another longtime McDonnell staffer who also served as Sen. John McCain’s (R-Ariz.) state director in Virginia.

• Coalitions Director and Deputy Campaign Manager Dave Rexrode was a former director of coalitions at the RNC.

• Finance Director Paige Hahn has worked with former Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

• Communications Director Tucker Martin was McDonnell’s press secretary during his tenure as attorney general.

• Press Secretary Crystal Cameron has worked in television news for the past 10 years, including most recently the NBC affiliate in Charlotte.

• Director of Research John Phillippe is an attorney.

Submit campaign staffing news and tips to Shop Talk here.