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Shop Talk: Indiana Republicans Fill Out Staff With Operatives

New Chairman Eric Holcomb is filling out his staff at the Indiana Republican Party. In addition to promoting former Gov. Mitch Daniels aide and Deputy Executive Director Justin Garrett to executive director, Holcomb has hired Sarah Potasnik as finance director and Pete Seat as communications director.

Potasnik and Seat are Hoosier State natives. Potasnik left the Indiana Chamber of Commerce to become the state party’s deputy finance director in February 2010. Seat previously worked as communications director for now-Sen. Dan Coats’ 2010 campaign and as assistant deputy press secretary under President George W. Bush.

Garrett’s hire created a stir when it was announced in January. Many observers saw the hire of a close Daniels aide as a sign that the governor would not run for president, but Daniels still hasn’t made a decision.

Back to the Windy City

Jake Braun, the former director of White House and public liaison in the office of the secretary of Homeland Security, will get back to campaigns in a new Chicago-based job through Resolute Consulting.

In addition to working for Resolute, Braun will be in charge of its sister company, Central Strategies, a political consulting firm. Braun has plenty of campaign experience to build on: In addition to working as national deputy field director on President Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign, he worked on the 2004 presidential campaign of Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and has been a consultant for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and the Democratic National Committee.

Podium Specialists

Jay Carney, the former Time magazine bureau chief who has been press secretary to Vice President Joseph Biden, will formally replace Robert Gibbs as White House press secretary Monday. Gibbs said in a press briefing that this is his last week at the podium before becoming an independent adviser helping with the president’s re-election campaign.

Hawkeye State Hires

The Republican Party of Iowa is transitioning to new staff following the 2010 cycle. Under Chairman Matt Strawn, the state party will serve as a referee of sorts in the Hawkeye State’s first-in-the-nation Republican presidential caucus. 

Chad Olsen was hired as executive director to replace Jim Anderson. During the 2010 election cycle, Olsen managed the party’s voter contact program. In the 2008 cycle, he started as state director for former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson’s short-lived presidential campaign and then transitioned to the state party after Thompson dropped out. 

New Communications Director Casey Mills is a veteran of Iowa Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley’s Senate office and 2010 re-election campaign.

Ryan Gough and Patrick Stewart came to the state party from the Republican National Committee’s political department during the 2010 cycle. Going forward, they will serve as organization director and data director, respectively.

Treasure State Hires

Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) hired Preston Elliott as his campaign manager. In previous cycles, Elliott has done field work in Montana, Alaska and Nevada, and was deputy political director at the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee in the 2008 cycle. 

Tester challenger Rep. Denny Rehberg (R) hired Brian Barrett as communications director. Barrett was campaign manager last year for Jeff Miller (R), who lost to Rep. Heath Shuler (D-N.C.), and previously worked on a campaign for Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.). Longtime Rehberg Chief of Staff Erik Iverson has worked as a general consultant for Rehberg’s House campaign for the past two years and is continuing in that role for the time being as Rehberg ramps up his Senate campaign.

Briefly Noted

• Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) hired his 2006 campaign manager, Paul Johnson, to run his 2012 re-election campaign, according to KETV in Omaha. Johnson has also managed campaigns for former Sen. Bob Kerrey and former Omaha Mayor Mike Fahey.

• Los Angeles City Councilwoman Janice Hahn assembled a top team of consultants as she considers seeking the California seat of Rep. Jane Harman (D). Politico reported that John Shallman will be Hahn’s general consultant, Joe Trippi will handle media, John Fairbank will be her pollster and Stephanie Daily Smith will handle fundraising.

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