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Shop Talk: OnMessage Hires Former Top NRCC Staffer Burgos

OnMessage Inc. has brought on Joanna Burgos, a top House Republican campaign operative, according to a forthcoming announcement from the GOP consulting firm shared first with CQ Roll Call.

In 2012, Burgos managed millions of dollars in campaign spending as director for the National Republican Congressional Committee’s independent expenditure unit. She was the first female and Hispanic operative to do so. Before that, Burgos served as a spokeswoman for the NRCC, the 2008 Republican National Convention and the Department of Homeland Security.

“House Republicans wisely put Joanna Burgos in charge of the majority’s re-election last year and we are confident our clients will trust her with their own elections,” Curt Anderson, a senior partner with the firm, said in a statement scheduled for release Tuesday. “Joanna is a savvy manager, a fantastic writer and bright strategic mind — she makes us better at everything we do.”

OnMessage, a media, polling, digital and general consulting firm, has played a leading advisory role to the NRCC since 2009. Its client list includes 21 House members, two senators and four governors.

Earlier this year, former NRCC Executive Director Guy Harrison joined the firm. Other OnMessage partners include Brad Todd, Wes Anderson, Graham Shafer and Timmy Teepell.

Mercury Rising With Wiley, Walker

The bipartisan political strategy firm Mercury announced Monday the hire of two political operatives, plus an expansion of its presence in Florida.

Former Republican National Committee Political Director Rick Wiley and 2012 Obama Florida State Director Ashley Walker are the firm’s newest staffers.

Wiley will have the title of Washington managing director. Walker will hold the same title of Mercury’s “Florida operations” and “will also co-lead a new joint venture for the firm in the Sunshine State,” according to a press release.

The press release also notes that Mercury has joined with the firm Floridian Partners and “will operate under the Mercury brand.”

Great Scott! (And Jeff!)

Veteran GOP operatives Jeff Burton and Scott Kamins announced last week the formation of their new government and public affairs firm Burton Kamins Advocacy.

A former deputy executive director at the National Republican Congressional Committee, Burton managed the Young Guns program for candidate support and recruitment. Before that, he served as a senior adviser to then-House Minority Whip Eric Cantor, R-Va. He was also chief of staff to Rep. K. Michael Conaway, R-Texas.

Kamins was most recently with Prime Policy Group, a subsidiary of Burson-Marsteller, a global public relations firm. He previously served as deputy chief of staff and director of government affairs at the Republican National Committee as well as in the State Department during President George W. Bush’s second term.

Book-ing Up More Talent

Newark Mayor Cory Booker recently hired Kevin Griffis, a Democratic operative specializing in communications, for his political team.

Previously, Griffis worked with the Podesta Group and before that in the Commerce Department. He was President Barack Obama’s communications director during the 2008 South Carolina Democratic primary.

Booker leads New Jersey’s Democratic Senate primary in 2014, according to public polls. However, he will likely have a primary challenge from someone in New Jersey’s congressional delegation.

Come On Up for the Rising

Three former Republican National Committee operatives last week launched America Rising, an organization dedicated to tracking and researching Democratic opposition.

Matt Rhoades, Joe Pounder and Tim Miller will lead the effort, which is intended to counter American Bridge 21st Century, an opposition research organization that boasted a banner cycle in 2012.

Rhoades is a former RNC research director who most recently served as Mitt Romney’s 2012 campaign manager. Pounder has worked in the RNC’s research and communications departments. Miller is also an ex-RNC spokesman and worked on Jon Huntsman’s 2012 presidential campaign.

Dialing for Dollars Is Trying to Find Me

Sen. Kay Hagan, D-N.C., continues to staff her re-election campaign by bringing on two new aides: John Coady will serve as her finance director, and Erika Brees will serve as her state finance director.

Brees and Coady are veterans of another targeted incumbent’s re-election race: Sen. Claire McCaskill’s campaign in Missouri last year. Coady held the same title with the McCaskill campaign, while Brees was her Missouri deputy finance director.

This follows Hagan’s announcement earlier this month that she had hired Preston Elliott to be her campaign manager.

NRSC New Hires

The National Republican Senatorial Committee announced two more hires last week: Brook Hougesen will be the new press secretary, and Sarah Morgan signed on as western regional political director.

Hougesen comes from the office of Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., where she served as communications director. She spent the 2012 cycle at the Congressional Leadership Fund super PAC and its sister organization, American Action Network.

Morgan was campaign manager for Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., in the 2012 cycle and is a former staffer to Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz.

Shira Toeplitz and Kyle Trygstad contributed to this report. Please send news of developments in the political industry to and follow us on Twitter @RCShopTalk.

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