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Shop Talk: Staff Grows as Delegates Cut

Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign has bolstered his Florida campaign staff as the state shuffled the national primary schedule by moving the contest up into January. The national party has threatened to penalize half of Florida’s delegates at next year’s party convention in Tampa.

“This is the team that will beat President [Barack] Obama in Florida,” said Katie Packer Gage, Romney’s deputy campaign manager.

Serving as state director is Molly Donlin, a Republican National Committee veteran who worked on Rudy Giuliani’s Florida staff in 2008 and has worked for state parties in Wisconsin, Michigan, Virginia and Ohio.

J.C. Hernandez, a former Miami Dade County GOP executive director, signed on as state field director. Regional field directors include Alex Melendez in the Tampa region and Andrew Messer, a partner at the Vineyard Co. consulting firm, in the northern Florida region. Melendez worked on Gov. Rick Scott’s (R) 2010 campaign and Sen. John McCain’s (R-Ariz.) 2008 presidential campaign in Florida.

Brett Doster, a 20-year veteran of Florida politics, was brought on as a strategic adviser. Doster was executive director for President George W. Bush’s presidential campaign in Florida.

From Tea Party to Prosperity

Levi Russell left his post as spokesman for the Tea Party Express to serve as director of public affairs at Americans for Prosperity.

In an email over the weekend to his press contacts, Russell said he will be the point of contact for press inquiries and bookings. He said AFP, which does not always agree with the Tea Party Express, “has a LOT in the works and will be making some serious news.”

Shake-Up in Hawaii GOP

Jonah Kaauwai stepped down last week after more than two years as chairman of the Hawaii Republican Party.

In an email to state party members, which was reprinted in the Hawaii Free Press, Kaauwai acknowledged that the party’s executive committee gave him a vote of “no confidence” and was set to vote him out at an Oct. 15 meeting. He wrote that “the current stalemate between the conservatives supporting my chairmanship and the moderates driving my resignation must end for the benefit of our Party.”

First Vice Chairwoman Beth Fukumoto will lead the state party on an interim basis until a new chairman is elected next year.

Psaki Leading GSG in D.C.

White House Deputy Communications Director Jen Psaki is joining Global Strategy Group as senior vice president-managing director. She will lead the growing office in Washington, D.C . After five years of working for President Barack Obama, Psaki starts Oct. 17 at GSG.

“We are thrilled to have Jen coming on board to lead and build our growing DC office,” GSG CEO Jon Silvan said in a statement. “Jen’s wealth of communications and public affairs experience will be a tremendous asset to all of our political, advocacy and corporate clients.”

Psaki joined the Obama campaign team as a traveling press secretary in 2007 and was named deputy press secretary in Obama’s first year in office. Psaki’s long résumé includes serving as deputy press secretary on Sen. John Kerry’s (D-Mass.) 2004 presidential campaign and as a regional press secretary at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

Burton Challenger Adds to Staff

Former U.S. Attorney Susan Brooks, who is one of several candidates challenging Indiana Rep. Dan Burton in the GOP primary in the redrawn 5th district, recently announced her campaign team.

Whitney Gehlhausen, a former field director for the Indiana GOP, is leaving her position as a scheduler for Rep. Larry Bucshon (R) to serve as political and policy director. Laken Sisko, who was finance director for Rep. Todd Rokita (R) last cycle, will serve in the same role for Brooks.

Dollyne Pettingill Sherman is managing media and communications. Sherman is president of DS Consulting and served as press secretary to former Gov. Bob Orr (R).

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