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Shop Talk: Finkelstein and Binnie Make an Odd Pairing

Republican operative Arthur Finkelstein is famous for staying away from the press, but he’s still advising several federal candidates this cycle in addition to the work he does for candidates in Israel and eastern Europe, which accounts for the bulk of his work load.

Businessman Bill Binnie (R) hired Finkelstein to advise his bid for Senate in New Hampshire. And while Finkelstein has a reputation for shying away from the media spotlight, Binnie and another consultant, Jamestown Associates CEO Larry Weitzner, report they have had frequent face-to-face contact and more-than-daily phone calls with the mysterious man who has helped to elect two presidents and dozens of Members of Congress.

Binnie and Finkelstein make a unique pair: Binnie is a first-time candidate running in a competitive primary for an open Senate seat and although the Republican has significant personal financial resources, he’s not considered the frontrunner yet.

‘I think they have libertarian and economic conservative bent, and they’re both exceptionally smart and accomplished,’ Weitzner said of the pairing.

In addition to Binnie, federal election reports show that Finkelstein is continuing to work for husband and wife Reps. Connie Mack IV (R-Fla.) and Mary Bono Mack (R-Calif.) this cycle, and sources say he also works on Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum’s (R) gubernatorial bid in addition to a couple of other selected clients. Finkelstein helped former Rep. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) in his failed Senate primary bid in 2004, but a Toomey campaign aide reports he’s not involved this cycle.

Efforts to contact Finkelstein were not successful because his office has an unlisted phone number. But according to Weitzner, he’s never there anyway.

‘He told me he’s only been there once because he’s always on an airplane,’ he quipped.

Everything but the Alex Sink

Over the past few weeks, Florida Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink (D) has made some big changes to her gubernatorial campaign staff.

Jim Cassady, Sink’s chief of staff, has taken over as campaign manager and Paul Dunn has left the campaign. Dunn came on board last summer after successfully managing Rep. Suzanne Kosmas’ (D-Fla.) first Congressional bid in 2008.

Shellie Levin, who most recently served as EMILY’s List majority council director for the southeast region, has also come on board as deputy campaign manager. Levin will specialize in fundraising now that the campaign’s most recent finance director, Joanna Belanger, left the campaign after the end of the first quarter along with a couple other regional finance staffers.

‘Earlier this month, the Alex Sink for governor campaign made some staff and strategic changes, in order to continue to build on our strong position and ensure an aggressive campaign into the summer and fall,’ Sink spokeswoman Kyra Jennings confirmed.

For-Trevor Young

Trevor Kincaid has signed on to help the campaign efforts of Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), who is running in a competitive race to win a full term after being appointed early on in the cycle.

Kincaid will serve as communications director after working in a similar role for Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), who publicly mulled her own bid for Senate early in 2009. Kincaid served as deputy campaign manager and communications director for then-Rep. Nick Lampson’s (D-Texas) failed bid for re-election in 2008, and also has worked as deputy press secretary for Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.). He is a native of Durham, N.C.

A Rivera Runs Through It

The top candidates running in the open-seat race to succeed Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.) now have their teams in place. Diaz-Balart is running in the nearby district currently held by his brother, retiring Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.).

The top Democratic candidate in the race, Joe Garcia, is using an almost completely new team despite coming just 6 points shy of beating Mario Diaz-Balart in 2008. Garcia has tapped Pete Brodnitz of the Benenson Strategy Group to do polling, Bill Knapp of Squier Knapp Dunn for communications, Jeff Garcia as general consultant and Courtney Whitney as his finance director ‘ the only principal holdover from his first bid. In the 2008 campaign, Garcia employed consultant Dave Beattie, Joe Trippi for media and used Jim Spencer for mail.

State Rep. David Rivera, the leading Republican in the race, has tapped Adam Goodman of the Victory Group to be his general consultant and work on media. Rachel Pierson will manage fundraising from political action committees, Esther Nufher will manage fundraising, Javier Correoso will serve as manager and Leslie Veiga will be the communications director.

John McArdle contributed to this report.

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