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Shop Talk: Newt Up in Polls and Staff

 Former Speaker Newt Gingrich (Ga.) is working to get his presidential campaign infrastructure caught up to his poll standings and has added a key cog in Florida.

Gingrich hired Jose Mallea as state director, National Journal reported. Mallea served last year as campaign manager for the insurgent campaign of Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.).

Mallea owns JM Global Consulting, according to his online résumé. Before working with Rubio, Mallea served as chief of staff to former Miami Mayor Manny Diaz, as an appointee in the State Department and as an assistant at the White House under President George W. Bush.

Gingrich also nabbed veteran Florida strategist Jamie Miller, the St. Petersburg Times reported. Miller, who has run Miller Strategies in Sarasota for more than 10 years, is a former political director and field director at the state Republican Party and will help lead Gingrich’s Florida efforts, the Times reported.

An NBC-Marist University poll released during the weekend found Gingrich leading in Florida with 44 percent, followed by former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney with 29 percent. 

Striking Out on Her Own

California Republican consultant Beth Miller announced last week that she is forming her own public affairs firm in Sacramento.

Miller had served as a partner at Wilson-Miller Communications with veteran Republican strategist Marty Wilson, who joined the California Chamber of Commerce in October as vice president of public affairs.

Miller’s new venture “is the next iteration of the strategic consulting practice she began nearly eight years ago as a founder of Wilson-­Miller Communications and builds on its solid foundation of providing effective communications, issue management, media relations and innovative public affairs solutions to a growing list of clients,” the firm stated in a press release. It officially launches New Year’s Day.

Miller will serve as president and CEO, and she’s bringing with her a handful of people from Wilson-Miller. Nick Garcia will continue as managing director, and Brooke Armour and Jessica Ng, who served as deputy communications director for Senate candidate Carly Fiorina, will serve as directors for the new firm.

“We will continue our client-focused approach of providing valuable [public] affairs, crisis communications and media-­relations solutions on a variety of local, state and national issues,” Miller said in a statement. 

Soltz Back From Iraq Chairman Jon Soltz is transitioning back to his role leading the liberal-leaning group that helps elect veterans to Congress.

Soltz, an Army major, has returned after being deployed to Iraq early this year. Former Minnesota Congressional candidate Ashwin Madia, a fellow Iraq War veteran, had served as interim chairman this year and becomes a senior adviser with Soltz back at the helm.

“Now we move on to 2012,” Soltz said in a statement. “One of [the] things I’ve seen upon my return is just how tough things are for veterans coming home. It’s always been tough for veterans, but given the state of the economy and our politics, now is even tougher for veterans and military families.”

He added, “This could very well be the year of the veteran.” 

Weigler Joins Growing Firm

Strategies 360, a Seattle-based Democratic public affairs company, has hired Oregon Democratic consultant Jake Weigler as communications director in its Portland office.

Weigler was a principal at Grant Park Strategies in Portland, most recently working as a consultant for Oregon 1st district special election candidate Brad Avakian. Weigler’s previous work for Oregon Democrats included serving as campaign manager for Sen. Ron Wyden’s 2010 re-election and Steve Novick’s unsuccessful 2008 Senate bid. He also was spokesman for former Gov. Ted Kulongoski. 

Ariz. Strategist Reaches Summit

Arizona Republican strategist Brian Murray has joined the Phoenix-based Summit Consulting Group.

Murray most recently served as partner at Lincoln Strategy Group in Phoenix. He previously served as an aide to former Arizona Reps. Rick Renzi and J.D. Hayworth and as executive director of the Arizona GOP.

The Summit Consulting Group is a full-service firm providing campaign, public relations and corporate affairs services. 

Galloway on the Grid

CampaignGrid, an online advertising platform for campaigns, announced it has hired John Galloway.

Galloway, who served as president of Atlantic Media until 2009, joins the online campaign solutions firm to help manage the company’s rapid growth and expansion of its voter-targeting platform to advertisers in the advocacy and
corporate-branding sectors.

Galloway most recently served as senior adviser to Jeff Zients, the first federal chief performance officer at the Office of Management and Budget. 

Coppersmith Joins Scott Circle

Scott Circle Communications announced last week the hiring of Sarah Coppersmith as senior account executive, creating media strategies and social media campaigns for clients.

Coppersmith is a Capitol Hill veteran, having served as press secretary for then-Rep. Harry Mitchell (D-Ariz.), as well as research director for his 2008 re-election. The graduate of Washington University in St. Louis most recently served as communications manager at the Partnership for a Healthier America.

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