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Shop Talk: Moran Closes In on NRSC Executive Director

National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman Jerry Moran of Kansas is involved in final deliberations concerning whom to hire as NRSC executive director.

No committee’s leadership is likely to face more pressure than that of the NRSC. The past two election cycles were brutal for Senate Republicans. Gaffe-prone candidates who couldn’t raise money won GOP primaries and blew general election campaigns in a few easy-win states, and many within the party are looking to Moran and his team to clean things up.

There are at least three candidates whom Moran is strongly considering for the executive director position: Purple Strategies’ Rob Collins; Kyle Ruckert, chief of staff to Sen. David Vitter, R-La.; and National Republican Congressional Committee Political Director Mike Shields.

Sources say Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio, the NRSC vice chairman for finance, has influence over the decision. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Sen.-elect Ted Cruz, R-Texas, who was appointed NRSC vice chairman for grass-roots outreach, also might play a role in the hire.

Each of the most talked about candidates for the executive director post would bring both strengths and weaknesses to the job. Here is a brief look at each of their résumés.

Collins: He is currently a partner at Purple Strategies. Formerly he ran the center-right group American Action Network. He also created the Hispanic Leadership Network and was a chief of staff for House Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia.

Ruckert: He is a longtime chief of staff and campaign operative for Vitter. He has been Vitter’s top policy aide since the Louisianan served in the House, and Ruckert managed both of his Senate campaigns.

Shields: He also has a policy and political portfolio. Before he was NRCC political director, Shields was the director of the committee’s independent expenditure arm. Shields earned respect as chief of staff to Rep. Dave Reichert, R-Wash. He helped guide the congressman through two tough re-election cycles in the Democratic wave years of 2006 and 2008.

R&R Partners Acquires Weeks&Co

R&R Partners announced last week that it had acquired Weeks&Co, a political consulting firm based in Austin, Texas.

Weeks&Co’s leadership, David Weeks and Suzanne Hofmann Erickson, will stay on with R&R Partners as the respective president and vice president of the Texas office.

Weeks was integral to the progress the Texas Republican Party made in the 1980s and 1990s. Weeks has represented corporate clients and is a longtime consultant to Gov. Rick Perry.

While the acquisition surprised many Texas operatives, it makes some strategic sense. R&R Partners is a Las Vegas-based outfit. Weeks&Co has consulted for prominent Nevada Republicans, including Gov. Brian Sandoval and former Sen. John Ensign.

Manchester Re-United

New Hampshire Republican strategist Mike Biundo plans in January to open a Manchester, N.H.-based political consulting shop called RightON, according to New Hampshire television station WMUR.

Biundo was a top aide on former Pennsylvania GOP Sen. Rick Santorum’s 2012 presidential campaign. After that campaign ended, he joined Mitt Romney’s campaign. Prior to national politics, Biundo was an operative to outgoing Rep. Frank Guinta, R-N.H.

Two other Guinta aides, Kory Wood and Derek Dufresne, will team up with Biundo, according to the report.

The new firm will be involved in both state and national politics in the coming cycles, along with business and issue advocacy.

Show Me the Votes in 2014

Missouri Democratic Party Chairman Mike Sanders named Joe Duffy the new executive director of the state party.

Duffy was a “top official” in Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon’s re-election campaign, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The newspaper reports that he worked for Sen. Barack Obama’s 2008 Iowa campaign.

“Joe’s experience with a range of Democratic candidates and officials will help us as we plan for the 2014 election cycle,” Sanders said in a written statement. “Joe is ready to continue building our party at all levels.”

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