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Shop Talk: Daschle, Glendening Form Grass-Roots Startup

Democratic Governors Association Executive Director Nathan Daschle told Roll Call on Wednesday that he will be leaving to start his own venture after more than five years at the helm. Daschle said he will “launch a grass-roots social-political startup” at the end of the year, and he’s bringing along with him the current DGA political director, Ray Glendening.

Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, who on Wednesday became chairman of the group for the upcoming cycle, had asked Daschle to stay, according to one insider. The executive director had long been expected to pursue other opportunities.

O’Malley takes over for outgoing Chairman Jack Markell of Delaware.

The selection of O’Malley came one day after Washington Sen. Patty Murray agreed to once again serve as chairwoman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. O’Malley and Murray, both from Democratic-leaning states, won re-election bids last month. Murray’s race was close; O’Malley’s was not.

Most states held their gubernatorial elections last month, when Republicans took control of a majority of the governor’s mansions. But 14 states will elect governors in the next two years.

Leading the Republican Governors Association will be Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who is taking over for Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour.

In With the New in the Old Dominion

Virginia Democrats will elect a new chairman Saturday to lead the party into the next two years of elections, including the 2011 state legislative and 2012 presidential elections.

Running for chairman is former state Del. Brian Moran and Peter Rousselot, the former chairman of the Arlington County Democratic Party. Moran, the brother of Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.), lost in the 2009 gubernatorial primary.

Moran is believed to have the edge in the race, in part because of his role traveling the state when he was chairman of the state House Democratic caucus. About 250 members of the state party’s central committee will meet in Newport News on Saturday to select the new chairman.

After the 2008 elections, Democrats held the governorship, both Senate seats and six of 11 House seats. But Republicans now hold the governorship and, beginning in January, eight House seats.

Next year, the GOP will be targeting the Democrats’ four-seat majority in the state Senate. In 2012, the top targets will be Sen. Jim Webb (D) and retaking the state’s 13 electoral votes, which went to a Democrat for the first time in four decades in 2008.

“We’re looking forward to the election of a new chairman,” state party Communications Director Brian Coy said, “and we’re already making plans to get him out there talking about the ways Democrats are fighting to expand opportunity for working families and get results on issues like jobs, education and transportation that have not been a high priority for Virginia Republicans.”

Arkansas Republicans will also be electing a chairman Saturday. Chairman Doyle Webb is running unopposed for re-election.

Label-Free Zone

A new group called No Labels is launching Dec. 13 in New York City. But it’s not entering the hyperpartisan fray — it’s trying to end it.

The group was founded by Third Way President Jonathan Cowan, Republican strategist Mark McKinnon and Democratic fundraiser Nancy Jacobson, among others, and its goal is to promote an open dialogue for citizens across the political spectrum to solve the nation’s problems.

“Putting aside our labels can offer a hopeful alternative, grounded in an approach that brings people together to develop practical solutions to common problems,” the No Labels website reads.

The goal is not to back candidates, at least not in its first year, but rather to help organize “meetups” and town halls in all 435 Congressional districts. The effort already has some major backers, including New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Sens. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), former Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.) and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa (D), among others.

The official launch event at Columbia University is sold out.

Southern Living

Republican Justin Brasell, an Ole Miss alum, is moving to Jackson, Miss., to start his own consulting firm.

In 2010 Brasell worked on South Dakota Sen. John Thune’s re-election bid and as the Midwest political director for the National Republican Congressional Committee. He ran Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s 2008 re-election bid in Kentucky and served as chief of staff to Rep. Geoff Davis (R-Ky.) before that.

Brasell’s children are 3 and 5 years old, so he and his wife want to settle down near family.

“We’re just ready to put down roots and get the family settled,” he said. “I will still be working on campaigns nationally. I will travel more and be away from home some.”

He’s hoping to announce more details about the new firm, including a name, clients and partnerships, after Jan. 1. Brasell emphasized that the move is no sign of a break with Thune. He said his former boss is still mulling a bid for the presidency in 2012 and that he would still like to be a part of it.

Nathan L. Gonzales contributed to this report.

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