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Shop Talk: Love in Politics

Everyone knows there’s no life outside politics when you work inside it, and for dozens in the political consulting world around the country, politics has been an avenue to marriage.

Of course, political love isn’t always found on the campaign trail. It can just as easily strike between bar stool neighbors at Capitol Lounge. That’s pretty much how it was for one political power couple who spoke with Roll Call. Charlie and Lisa Spies are just one example of the many consulting couples out there.

Sipping drinks at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel bar in Washington, D.C., the lovebirds met 10 years ago this month — a few days after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The two bonded over their admiration for President George W. Bush in the wake of the deadly disaster, and when they learned they both worked in GOP politics, they knew it was a match.

Lisa Spies, now a top GOP fundraiser and president of the LS Group Inc., had worked at the College Republican National Committee during the 2000 election cycle. Charlie Spies was then at the Republican National Committee. He’s now head of Clark Hill’s political law practice and a founder of Restore Our Future, a super PAC that supports Mitt Romney for president.

In honor of romance, we asked Shop Talk readers to highlight political couples. The names we received could not nearly fit in this space, but here is a small, bipartisan sample:

• John Lapp, Ralston Lapp Media; Ali Lapp, House Majority PAC
• Gene Ulm, Public Opinion Strategies; Carolyn Machado, Machado & Co.
• J.B. Poersch, SKDKnickerbocker; Jennifer Yocham Poersch, Wexler & Walker
• Art and April Hackney, Hackney & Hackney (Alaska)
• Julian Mulvey, Devine Mulvey; Margie Omero, Momentum Analysis
• Ron Bonjean, Singer Bonjean Strategies and the Bonjean Co.; Sara Bonjean, Rose Strategies
• Anita Dunn, SKDKnickerbocker; Bob Bauer, Perkins Coie
• Corbin Casteel, RedRock Strategies; Annie Casteel, finance consultant (Texas)
• David Dixon, Dixon/Davis Media Group; Monica Dixon, Forward Together PAC
• Dan Hazelwood, Targeted Creative Communications; Blaise Hazelwood, Grassroots Targeting

Moving Forward

David Bitner, the chairman of the Florida Republican Party who revealed earlier this year that he had been diagnosed with ALS, will be stepping down from his position on Sept. 23 for health reasons.
In a letter to state party members, Bitner said he has served as long as he could and strongly endorsed Vice Chairman Lenny Curry in the special election to replace him. That election will come on the day he resigns.

In other state party news, Jack Kimball stepped down Thursday as chairman of the New Hampshire GOP amid criticism for special election losses and poor fundraising, and as a groundswell of support built for his ouster.

Vice Chairman Wayne MacDonald will lead the party through the 2012 elections.

Battle for Albuquerque

Two of the candidates running for the open 1st district seat in New Mexico, which Rep. Martin Heinrich (D) is vacating to run for Senate, recently announced campaign team additions.

Former Albuquerque Mayor Marty Chavez (D) has signed on Alan Packman as campaign manager. Packman managed Heinrich’s re-election in 2010, helping the incumbent pull off a 4-point win in a tough year for Democrats. Since that election, Packman has served as executive director of ProgressNow New Mexico.

“I’m very excited to have Alan onboard,” Chavez said. “He organized a very strong campaign last year and ran a terrific GOTV effort across the district, especially in the South Valley.”

Chavez’s Democratic primary opponent, state Sen. Eric Griego, announced a strong consulting team. The campaign will be managed by Ed Yoon, a former regional political director at the Democratic National Committee who ran independent expenditure campaigns in 2006 and 2008 for the Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund.

Griego’s pollster is Michael Bocian, a founding partner of Gerstein Bocian Agne Strategies and veteran of the Democratic Governors Association, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

Martha McKenna and Jennifer Pihlaja of McKenna Pihlaja, also veterans of the Democratic committees, are the media strategists. Alan Moore and Ed Espinoza of the Mack Crounse Group will serve as the direct-mail and targeting strategists.

If It Ain’t Broke…

Rep. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) has assembled a Senate campaign team with some similarities to the one that helped Sen. Daniel Akaka (Hawaii) hold off a 2006 Democratic primary challenge from then-Rep. Ed Case, who happens to be Hirono’s opponent, too.

The Honolulu Star Advertiser reported that Hirono’s chief of staff, Betsy Lin, was a key adviser to Akaka’s 2006 campaign. Elisa Yadao will reprise the role she held for Akaka focusing on strategy and communications, and his campaign manager, Andrew Winer, also is joining Team Hirono.

Submit campaign staffing news and tips to Shop Talk here.

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