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Shop Talk: If I Were a Rich Man

Club for Growth spokesman Rich Dunn has left the anti-tax conservative group to take a gig as the deputy political director at the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

[IMGCAP(1)]In many ways, Dunn is merely returning to his roots: He served as deputy incumbent retention director at the National Republican Congressional Committee in the 2008 cycle. When former Rep. Chris Chocola (R-Ind.) became president of the club earlier this year, he brought on Dunn — one of his former top aides ­— to be the group’s spokesman.

But Dunn’s move back to a national party committee is noteworthy because the NRSC and the club are on separate sides of a couple of GOP primaries in 2010. The NRSC has endorsed Florida Gov. Charlie Crist for Senate, but the club has made a point of pounding the governor for what they believe is an abysmal record on fiscal issues.

Mike Connolly, a former speechwriter for Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), is the new communications director at the club. The Washington, D.C.-area native also served as a speechwriter for former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas) and former Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.). Connolly began Monday — just one day before the special election in upstate New York where the club played a prominent role in supporting Conservative Party nominee Doug Hoffman, who ultimately lost the race.

Special Teams Hit the Field. The independent expenditure arms of several political organizations spent heavily in this week’s special election in New York ­— and several consultants reaped the benefits of working on the race to succeed former Rep. John McHugh (R) in the 23rd district.

The Club for Growth and its political action committee spent more than $645,000 in mail, television, phone calls and radio on behalf of their endorsed candidate, Conservative Party nominee Doug Hoffman. The club tapped its leading consultant, Jon Lerner of Red Sea LLC, to do its media and advising strategy for the race. Lerner’s sister firm, Basswood Research, performed polling on behalf of the club.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s IE dropped more than $1.1 million on the race, according to records filed with the Federal Election Commission. Much of that work went to the phone vendor Winning Connections and media consulting firms Ralston Lapp Media and GMMB.

The National Republican Congressional Committee used one of its most frequent vendors, On Message Inc., to do the media for its IE campaign, while Neil Newhouse of Public Opinion Strategies performed polling. The committee’s IE spent $897,000 on the race.

Welcome to the Hotel Carlyfornia. Former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina officially jumped into the California Senate race this week and simultaneously announced her full campaign team. Fiorina’s crew includes the top three partners from the California-based consulting firm Wilson-Miller Communications, and several national consultants.

Campaign manager Marty Wilson served as a top adviser on the 2003 and 2006 campaigns of Golden State Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) and formed Wilson-Miller Communications in 2004.

Finance Director Cassandra Vandenberg of Vandenberg and Associates has consulted for several Senators, national party committees and former state Treasurer Matt Fong, who gave Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) a tough race in 1998.

Media Director Fred Davis of Strategic Perception is also on board, and he has advised Schwarzenegger on his campaigns as well.

Pollster Dave Sackett is a founding partner at the Tarrance Group, where he has advised more than 30 Republican governors and Members, as well as former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s (R) presidential campaign.

Senior advisers Beth Miller of Wilson-Miller Communications, John Peschong of Meridian Pacific and Joe Shumate of Shumate and Associates are also on board.

Rebecca Donatelli and Chuck DeFeo of Campaign Solutions have been tapped to do Fiorina’s Web site and social media, while Liz Mair of Hynes Communications will serve as online media director.

Kristin Vellandi of Visible Outreach will serve as coalitions director.

I Wish That I Had Jesse’s Girl. Jesse Ferguson has landed at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee as their new Southern regional press secretary. Most recently Ferguson was communications director for former state Del. Brian Moran’s unsuccessful Democratic primary bid in Virginia’s gubernatorial race.

Prior to that Ferguson worked as the top aide to Moran when he was Democratic caucus chairman in the Virginia House of Delegates. Ferguson served as executive director of Virginia21, a higher education advocacy organization, from 2003 to 2006.

When the Bauman Breaks. Brad Bauman was recently named communications manager at the Sunlight Foundation, an organization that seeks to improve government transparency through technological innovation. Bauman comes from Rep. Tim Ryan’s (D-Ohio) office, where he served as communications director.

During his tenure in Ryan’s office, the Miami native also hit the road for several Democratic candidates. Bauman served as communications director for now-Rep. Mary Jo Kilroy’s (D-Ohio) bid for Congress in 2008, as well as for the Democratic candidate in the special election in Ohio’s 5th district in 2007. Bauman was also the campaign manager for Peter Franchot’s (D) bid for state comptroller in Maryland in the 2006 cycle.

If It Ain’t Broke, Don’t Fitz It. Former Colorado Congressional candidate Joan Fitz-Gerald (D) will join America Votes as its new president. America Votes is a coalition of dozens of progressive organizations, including the AFL-CIO, National Jewish Democratic Council and Sierra Club, that aims to mobilize voters.

Fitz-Gerald ran in the open-seat race in the 2nd district in 2008, but she lost to now-Rep. Jared Polis (D) in the primary. Fitz-Gerald lost despite having backing of at least one of the groups in the AV coalition — EMILY’s List.

“I’m sure she will do an excellent job as the new head of America Votes, and we’re excited about the opportunity to work with her again,— EMILY’s List President Ellen Malcolm said.

Fitz-Gerald follows in the footsteps of former Rep. Martin Frost (D-Texas). America Votes Executive Director Greg Speed will continue handling daily operations and management for the group under Fitz-Gerald, according to a press release from the organization.

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