Shop Talk: Shelley Berkley’s Campaign Beefs Up Communications

Posted June 11, 2012 at 6:15pm

The Nevada Senate race officially kicks off after today’s primaries, from which Sen. Dean Heller (R) and Rep. Shelley Berkley (D) should advance easily.

To kick off the general election sprint, the Berkley campaign recently made some changes to its communications team, hiring Xochitl Hinojosa as communications director and Colin Milligan as press secretary.

Hinojosa, a Texas native, started last month after serving for the past three years as a public affairs specialist at the Justice Department, including in the Civil Rights Division. She was the spokeswoman handling redistricting, voter ID, hate crimes, challenges to state immigration laws and the investigation into the shooting of Trayvon Martin.

Previously, Hinojosa was a senior external affairs specialist at Media Matters for America and served on Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign. Her father, Gilberto Hinojosa, was elected chairman of the Texas Democratic Party on Saturday, the state party’s first Hispanic chairman.

Milligan, who replaced outgoing press secretary Eric Koch, spent the past year and a half as deputy press secretary for regional media in the Senate Democratic Policy and Communications Center, which is chaired by Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.). Milligan spent the 2010 cycle as deputy press secretary at the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and was a press assistant and field organizer on President Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign.

Garden State Action

Paul Brubaker was named communications director on Sen. Bob Menendez’s (D-N.J.) re-election campaign.

Brubaker, a Montclair resident and former newspaper reporter, has served for the past three years as communications director for Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.). Last week, Pascrell handily defeated fellow Democratic Rep. Steven Rothman in a redistricting-forced primary. Brubaker starts June 18.

During his journalism days, Brubaker worked at the Star-Ledger, the Herald News and the Montclair Times.

“Paul has seen political journalism from both sides, and has a keen sense of what matters most to New Jersey residents,” Menendez campaign manager Michael Soliman said in a statement.

New Public Affairs Firm

Daniel McElhatton last week announced the launch of his own firm, McElhatton LeCompte Public Affairs.

MLPA’s focuses include strategic communications grass-roots and grass-tops organizing, lobbying and advocacy, political and crisis management and media training. McElhatton served as chief of staff to Rep. Allyson Schwartz (D-Pa.) for five years, and he was communications director on Sen. Chris Coons’ (D-Del.) 2010 campaign.

“MLPA can play an important role in assisting organizations and campaigns in aggressively taking advantage of potential opportunities and overcoming crises,” McElhatton said in a statement.

Kerry On

James Chisholm, a former speechwriter and deputy press secretary for Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), was hired as vice president to lead Resolute Consulting’s new Boston office.

Chisholm most recently served as chief of staff to Boston City Councilor Ayanna Pressley after running her campaigns in 2009 and 2011. He’ll now serve Resolute’s regional clients on policy issues and provide strategic counseling and messaging.

In Memoriam: Jill Hanson

Jill Hanson, a veteran campaign operative and senior consultant at the Strategy Group for Media, died on Friday, the firm stated in a press release over the weekend.

The release referred to the Wisconsin native as a “trailblazing woman in a male dominated political arena.” She was the national political director on Bob Dole’s 1996 presidential campaign, a senior adviser on President George H.W. Bush’s 1992 campaign, a regional political director for the Republican National Committee and a senior consultant on numerous Senate and gubernatorial campaigns in the Midwest and West.

“She was a brilliant strategist, a matchless tactician and one of the sharpest political minds we have ever known,” Strategy Group for Media CEO Rex Elsass said in a statement. “Jill was part of our Strategy Group for Media family and we will miss her dearly. Today Jill smiles down from God’s good Heaven.”

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