Shop Talk: Democrats Gear Up to Sell Health Care, Again

Posted April 15, 2011 at 4:55pm

Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick (D), former Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle (D) and Center for American Progress Chief Operating Officer Neera Tanden formally announced the formation of an education and “grass-roots lobbying” group to advocate for the health care reform law.

Brought on board to run the group’s efforts as senior adviser is Paul Tewes, President Barack Obama’s state director for the 2008 Iowa caucuses and veteran of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

Also on staff is Campaign Manager Tanya Bjork, Finance Adviser Ami Copeland, Communications Director Eddie Vale, Media Consultant Jim Margolis of GMMB, and pollster John Anzalone.

At a Thursday press conference on the top floor of the Hay-Adams Hotel overlooking the White House, Patrick, Doyle, Tanden and Anzalone insisted the group was nonpolitical in nature. Its intent, they said, is to assist in the challenging effort of balancing the conversation about the law while informing the public about something that will not fully go into effect for another few years.

Patrick declined to detail where the group’s fundraising would come from, but he said he would like it to focus on using social media to get out its message — though TV and radio ads are likely in the future.

Pawlenty Hires Aplenty

Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R) has announced three big hires for his presidential exploratory committee.

Following the announcement of Nick Ayers as campaign manager, Pawlenty also signed up two more well-regarded Republican operatives: Jon Lerner as pollster and adviser and Jon Seaton as political director.

Lerner, who also just signed on with former Florida Sen. George LeMieux for his 2012 Senate bid, is a 17-year political consulting veteran and the founder and principal of Red Sea and Basswood Research.

Last cycle, Lerner, a Minneapolis native, advised winning statewide candidates in Alaska, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Utah. He has also worked for the Club for Growth and the Republican Governors Association.

Seaton is a veteran of the past two GOP presidential campaigns and heads the East Meridian Strategies consulting firm in Northern Virginia. After serving as national field director on Sen. John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign, he again advised the Arizona Republican on his 2010 re-election.

Previously, Seaton was a White House associate director for political affairs in the 2006 cycle, serving as a liaison to GOP campaigns in 11 states, including Pawlenty’s gubernatorial re-election.

Seaton garnered experience in Iowa, home to the first presidential caucuses, during both presidential campaigns and at the White House, and Pawlenty emphasized that experience in announcing his hire.

Romney Got Gitcho

Another likely presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R), also continues to build his campaign team. He announced Thursday that Gail Gitcho, a 10-year veteran of political campaigns, will serve as communications director of his exploratory committee.

Gitcho also worked on Romney’s 2008 presidential campaign as a regional press secretary before moving over to Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain’s campaign for the general election. She joined the Republican National Committee as national press secretary in 2009 before becoming communications director for Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) on Capitol Hill.

The Santorum Angle

Former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) announced the hiring of Amanda Kornegay, partner of the Macsata-Kornegay Group Inc., as finance director of his presidential exploratory committee. Kornegay served as finance director for Nevada Senate candidate Sharron Angle (R), who raised $28 million in her bid against Sen. Harry Reid (D). She previously was finance director for North Carolina Republican Sen. Richard Burr’s first bid in 2004. Kornegay also previously worked with National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman John Cornyn (Texas).

On the Hunt-sman

The Washington Post reported that China Ambassador Jon Huntsman’s potential presidential campaign snagged veteran South Carolina operative Chris Allen, Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain’s political director in the state in 2008 and a former aide to ex-Gov. Mark Sanford (R).

Cross-Country Consulting

Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee veterans Brian Walsworth and Nicole Landset have formed a new consulting firm, with Walsworth based in Lansing, Mich., and Landset in Los Angeles.

Walsworth Landset Research will offer research, document collection and strategic communications to candidates, political organizations, nonprofits and corporations.

Walsworth was the DCCC director of research and strategy in the 2008 cycle and has also worked as a research consultant at the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. He has worked on Congressional, gubernatorial and mayoral campaigns and served as a consultant to several Members of Congress, including Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).

Landset succeeded Walsworth at the DCCC, serving as director of research and strategy in the 2010 cycle. She also was research director for the League of Conservation Voters and the campaigns of former Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius (D) and New York mayoral candidate Fernando Ferrer (D).

Saler to Captain the Ship

Mississippi GOP Chairman Arnie Hederman recently announced the party’s latest staff additions from the past few months as they operate what he called “a lean, mean team.” Tim Saler, a North Carolina “victory director” at the Republican National Committee in 2010, was named executive director for the 2012 cycle. Saler previously organized Republican New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s field operation in the southern half of the state.

The party also brought in Kaitlyn Colson, a veteran of Republican Rep. Gregg Harper’s office, as director of member relations, and Myles Russell and Kyle Brown as regional political directors.

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