Skip to content

Shop Talk: Democratic Campaign Veterans Join Direct-Mail Firm

Alex Zwerdling, political director for House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), and Kate Chapek, a consultant who worked most recently for the now-defunct firm MSHC Partners, have joined the Democratic direct-mailing firm the Baughman Co. as principals.

Zwerdling, a Massachusetts native, worked as Hoyer’s political director during the 2010 election cycle.

“I ran the PAC and assisted Members with fundraising and staffing up,” he said. He also handled Hoyer’s campaign travel schedule, which he said included 85 districts. Zwerdling said he accompanied Hoyer on most of those trips.

In the cycle prior to that, Zwerdling led the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s independent expenditure arm. He has worked on a number of Democratic Congressional campaigns, including those of Rep. André Carson (Ind.), former Rep. John Hall (N.Y.), Congressional candidate Jamie Wall (Wis.) and Senatorial candidate Inez Tenenbaum (S.C.).

Chapek, a Southern California native, worked for EMILY’s List, America Votes, Hillary Clinton for President and Change That Works. She managed the campaign of state Rep. Joan Buchanan (D) to replace then-Rep. Ellen Tauscher (D) in 2009. She said she’s excited to join a growing firm.

“I love doing mail. I love the creativity. I love the team here,” she said. “They’re just amazingly creative and strategic and smart.”

New Voice at DSCC

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee hired Matt Canter as communications director for the 2012 election cycle. Canter told Roll Call that he will begin March 14.

Eric Schultz, who has served in that role since last cycle, is leaving for other opportunities. Canter is currently communications director for Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), and he previously held the same position for former Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle (D) and on the 2008 campaign of Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.).

“Matt Canter knows how to win tough races,” Executive Director Guy Cecil said.

“He is one of the best communication professionals in the field, and he joins our team at a time where we have strong pickup opportunities across the country.”

Canter joins Cecil, Political Director Crystal King, Finance Director Angelique Cannon and Research Director Amy Gooden to form the committee’s senior staff.

Staffing Up for Special

California Secretary of State Debra Bowen’s 36th district special election campaign team is in place.

Steve Barkan and Parke Skelton of SG&A Campaigns are the Democrat’s general, mail and media consultants. The two have previously handled Los Angeles-area Democratic Reps. Judy Chu and Adam Schiff, as well as former Reps. Hilda Solis and Jane Harman, who vacated the coastal 36th district Monday.

Dan Chavez will serve as Bowen’s campaign manager and her field director is Lenny Young, who last year worked on Ami Bera’s unsuccessful challenge to Rep. Dan Lungren (R-Calif).

The Eighth Sign of the Zodiac

Republican strategist Bo Harmon opened Scorpio Public Affairs this week. Harmon worked most recently for Response America, a direct-mailing firm, and he said the new firm will give him the chance to do general consulting.

“It was an opportunity to expand beyond direct voter contact and involve more public affairs work, which is something I’ve had a long interest in,” he told Roll Call.

Harmon said the firm will work for candidates and issue groups, as well as on coalition building, focusing on the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast regions. He said the firm’s name is symbolic of its character.

“Scorpio traits include passionate intensity, loyalty, hard work and an endless determination to win. Those are the traits I hope the company will embody,” he said. “Scorpio is also the sign for November, when elections occur, as well as being my own astrological sign.”

Harmon led the Republican presidential ticket’s voter contact program in 2008 and before that managed campaigns for then-Maryland Gov. Bob Ehrlich in 2006 and for Sen. Saxby Chambliss (Ga.) in 2002. During the 2004 election cycle, he worked at the National Republican Congressional Committee.

An Alabama native, Harmon graduated from Vanderbilt University.

Key Hires

Aubrey Montgomery will become the new finance director for the Pennsylvania Democratic Party on March 22.

She is among a host of staffers that party officials plan to add in the coming months as they aim to bolster staffing and fundraising under the relatively new leadership of Chairman Jim Burn.

The party plans to move from a current paid staff of eight to roughly 20, according to Burn. And it plans to expand annual fundraising from about $500,000 up to $2 million to $3 million.

Montgomery previously served as finance director for unsuccessful Pennsylvania 4th district Congressional candidate Bryan Lentz.

State party interim Executive Director Kevin Washo was promoted to permanent executive director Feb 23. He served as the Pennsylvania state political director for the Obama campaign in 2008 and spent much of the past six years working for Sen. Bob Casey (D).

Steve Peoples contributed to this report.

Submit campaign staffing news and tips to Shop Talk here.

Recent Stories

Gaetz plans move to oust McCarthy, says GOP needs new leader

McCarthy promises ‘punishment’ over Bowman fire alarm before vote

Shutdown averted as Biden signs seven-week spending bill

Stopgap funding bills hung up in both chambers

Who are the House Republicans who opposed the stopgap budget bill?

Taking it to the limit — Congressional Hits and Misses