South Carolina Democrats Elect First Black Chairman | Shop Talk

Posted May 6, 2013 at 4:24pm

South Carolina Democrats elected their first black party chairman, Jaime Harrison, over the weekend. Harrison will succeed outgoing Chairman Dick Harpootlian.

“You probably won’t get as interesting quotes,” the Orangeburg native told the Charleston Post and Courier in a nod to his predecessor’s loquacious reputation. “But I hope to be pretty substantive.”

Harrison, a former state party first vice chairman, ran uncontested for the post. He is a former aide to Assistant Minority Leader Rep. James E. Clyburn of South Carolina. Harrison will continue as a principal at the Podesta Group in addition to his new role.

Republicans also held their state party leadership elections over the weekend.

GOP Chairman Chad Connelly won re- election on May 4 in a contested race at his party’s convention with nearly 75 percent of the vote.

These new leadership roles come at a pivotal time for both parties, who are engaged in a competitive special election in the 1st District which wraps up Tuesday.

Mercury Rising

Ben Feller has joined Mercury Public Affairs in New York, where he will be a “managing director leading media strategy efforts for the firm’s public affairs division,” according to a release.

Earlier this year, Feller left The Associated Press, where he was the chief White House correspondent.

“After 20 years in journalism, I am eager to shape strategy and solve problems at the highest level, and Mercury provides exactly the right fit,” Feller said in a written statement. “This place is loaded with creative leaders and competitive drive, and the culture is all about smart thinking. Every conversation with Mercury showed why this company is so clearly on the move. The opportunity is thrilling.”

Gitcho Direct

The Republican Governors Association announced Monday that Gail Gitcho, the former presidential campaign communications director for Mitt Romney, will join its team.

Gitcho is currently working on Republican Gabriel Gomez’s Massachusetts Senate campaign and will continue to do so, according to an RGA spokesman.

She succeeds Mike Schrimpf at the RGA, who is now working on Illinois Republican Bruce Rauner’s gubernatorial exploratory committee.

We Take Care of Our Own

Stephanie Cutter, Jen O’Malley Dillon and Teddy Goff have joined forces to form a new political consulting firm.

Precision Strategies will offer strategic planning for digital campaigns, branding and communications, crisis management, digital strategy, analytics and targeting, and campaign management.

With an emphasis on data, the trio promises to “turn your supporters from passive fans to active evangelists for your brand,” according to the company’s website.

Others joining the firm include former Treasury Department Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs Jenni LeCompte, Obama 2012 national and regional spokesman Frank Benenati, Obama digital fundraiser Julia Prieto and first lady Michelle Obama’s campaign press assistant Lucy Silver.

One Step Up the Hilltop

Serena Woods has joined Hilltop Public Solutions’ Colorado office. She leaves her current position at the Colorado Consumer Health Initiative. Previously, she headed up Colorado’s “Women for Obama” effort.

Birds of a Feather Flock Together

270 Strategies announced a slew of new hires last week.

Betsy Hoover, the Obama 2012 Director of Digital Organizing, will lead a Chicago-based digital team comprised of Martha Patzer and Bridget Halligan. They also worked on the presidential campaign.

The new staff also includes Washington, D.C.-based Andy Oare and Jesse Boateng and Alex Lofton, who will be a vice president in the company’s San Francisco office.

Obama campaign veterans Mitch Stewart and Jeremy Bird are founding partners of the firm.

Greetings From Asbury Park

Patrick Sebastian joined the New Jersey GOP as the new victory director. His responsibilities will center around voter mobilization as Republican Gov. Chris Christie runs for re-election.

Sebastian is formerly a director at Mercury Public Affairs’ Raleigh, N.C., office and has experience in North Carolina politics.

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