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Shop Talk: Help Wanted

Correction Appended

The Republican National Committee is still searching to fill some of its top staff spots, according to sources familiar with the process.

The RNC is actively looking for a finance director more than three months after Chairman Michael Steele took the reins of the organization. Mark Stephens, who was executive director at the National Republican Senatorial Committee in the 2006 cycle, is serving as acting finance director in the meantime.

The RNC officials offered the finance director job to Rob Bickhart, who has run much of former Sen. Rick Santorum’s fundraising operation as well as those of several other Pennsylvania Republicans.

Bickhart, however, turned down the RNC. And according to one source familiar with the situation, the RNC had to hire a headhunter for a while to look for potential candidates for the job.

“What it says is that people are very wary about joining the organization because of all the bad publicity it’s generating on itself,” one Republican strategist said.

The RNC has also yet to find a finance chairman. Although the position is not paid, as least one other Republican operative found it surprising that the RNC was having trouble finding people to fill these jobs — especially with so many Republicans looking for work in Washington, D.C., this cycle.

“How bad is it when you’re unemployed with no job prospects in sight and you’re offered at job at the RNC and you have to turn it down?” the operative said.

The RNC did hire someone to replace former Chief Financial Officer Jay Banning, who worked with the committee for 33 years. The RNC announced in April that Boyd Rutherford, a former assistant secretary for the Department of Agriculture, would serve as chief administrative officer, a role similar to that of CFO.

Despite the vacancies in top money-raising spots, the RNC’s fundraising was on par with the the Democratic National Committee in March, when the committee raised $6.9 million to the Democrats’ $7.8 million. And while the DNC was $6.7 million in the hole, the RNC had an impressive $23.9 million in the bank at the end of March.

Regional Bias. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has its four regional political directors in place, according to sources familiar with their hirings.

Joe Shafer will be the Northeast political director for the 2010 cycle. Shafer worked with the Pennsylvania House Democratic Campaign Committee last cycle. In the 2006 cycle, he managed Illinois Democrat Tammy Duckworth’s primary campaign and now-Rep. Zack Space’s (D-Ohio) general election bid.

Katie Nee will be joining Shafer on the political desk, where she will be the director for the Southern region. Nee managed former Rep. Don Cazayoux’s (D-La.) campaign twice in 2008, when he won the seat in a May special election and then lost the race for a full term in November.

Hoosier State operative Travis Lowe will be the Midwest political director for the DCCC this cycle. Lowe most recently ran former Rep. Jill Long Thompson’s (D) 2008 gubernatorial campaign in Indiana.

Adam Sullivan will run the Western desk, fresh off his role as campaign manager for Rep. Scott Murphy’s (D-N.Y.) special election last month. Originally from Colorado, Sullivan ran now-Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand’s (D-N.Y.) re-election campaign in the 20th district in 2008.

Show-Me the Money. Rep. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) has picked two veteran Missouri fundraisers for his Senate campaign. Roll Call has learned that Karen Mohan Day and Heather Grote will help Blunt’s statewide bid in 2010.

The former House Minority Whip raised eyebrows last month when he announced he raised $560,000 — just over half of the $1 million that Secretary of State Robin Carnahan (D) announced she had raised since announcing her bid for retiring Sen. Kit Bond’s (R) seat. What’s more, former state Treasurer Sarah Steelman, who has a history of funding her own races for office, is expected to announce that she will challenge him in the GOP primary.

The founder of Capital Enhancement Inc., Mohan Day is a top GOP fundraiser in Missouri. She has raised money for former Sens. John Ashcroft and Jim Talent and former Gov. Matt Blunt, as well as former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney’s 2008 presidential campaign in Missouri.

Grote is a longtime fundraiser for Bond, including serving as top fundraiser for his 2004 re-election campaign and for KITPAC. Grote has also served as finance director for the Missouri Republican Party.

Adding to the Spectrum. Steve Gordon’s consulting firm, Total Spectrum, has added two more top names to its expanding masthead. Gordon has fundraised for dozens of well-known Republican candidates over the course of his 30-year career, including Sen. Jon Kyl (Ariz.).

Paul Hatch will be a senior vice president. Hatch began his career in Utah, where he did political work for then-Gov. Mike Leavitt, and eventually served as executive director of the Republican Governors Association. Hatch was also chairman of the RNC’s Victory Program in 1996.

Mark Micali will be the firm’s new vice president after most recently serving as director of government relations at Merrill Lynch. Micali started off his political career with former Rep. Dan Rostenkowski (D-Ill.) before becoming the Direct Marketing Association’s principal political strategist.

Portman’s New Men. Former Rep. Rob Portman (R) has picked his media and polling shops for his Ohio Senate bid. Only one of the firms is new to Portman, who left the House in 2005 to be U.S. trade representative.

Stevens & Schriefer Group will advise Portman on his communications and media for the 2010 race, according to a release from the campaign. This is Portman’s first go-round with the GOP media firm.

Brian Tringali of the Tarrance Group will do Portman’s polling. Tringali also advised the seat’s current occupant, retiring Sen. George Voinovich (R), and Portman when he was in the House.

Portman was one of the leading fundraisers among Senate candidates last quarter, raising $1.7 million since announcing his bid earlier this year.

Rubio’s Reign. Florida Republican Marco Rubio has tapped Brian Seitchik to manage his Senate bid.

Seitchik most recently worked with California Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner’s (R) gubernatorial campaign. He also served as communications director for former Sen. Mike DeWine’s (R-Ohio) failed re-election bid in 2006, and ran Rep. Dan Lungren’s (R-Calif.) victorious campaign to return to Congress in 2004.

Rubio, a former state Speaker in the Sunshine State, appears headed for the primary showdown with Gov. Charlie Crist (R) in the open-seat race. Crist is expected to announce whether he will run to succeed Sen. Mel Martinez (R) in the coming days.

On the Ball. New York Assemblyman Greg Ball, the likely Republican nominee against Rep. John Hall (D-N.Y.) next year, already has a full consulting team in place. For polling and general consulting, he is using Mike DuHaime of Mercury Public Affairs. DuHaime recently went to the New York-based firm after running the 2008 presidential campaign of former Mayor Rudy Giuliani (R) and serving as political director at the Republican National Committee.

For media, Ball is using Jamestown Associates, and Ed Traz of the Traz Group will handle voter contact mail. Ball said he may also use Barry Zeplowitz of Barry Zeplowitz & Associates, a Buffalo-based Republican consulting firm that handled polling for his prior campaigns.

On the Mark. California state Sen. Mark DeSaulnier (D), one of three frontrunners in the nascent race to replace Rep. Ellen Tauscher (D-Calif.), has hired some consultants. He is using Los Angeles-based John Shallman as a general consultant and for media. Shallman filled the same role for another California special election winner, Rep. Laura Richardson (D), in 2007.

Oakland-based Alex Evans is serving as DeSaulnier’s pollster. And Mike Fraioli of Washington, D.C.-based Fraioli & Associates is handling national fundraising.

Tauscher has been nominated for a top post at the State Department, but until she is confirmed, no date has been set for a special election to fill her East Bay seat. DeSaulnier is one of the top three contenders in the still-developing race.

Radio Static. The National Republican Congressional Committee has picked up Jon Thompson to be its director of radio and television this cycle.

Thompson is an alumnus of the Republican National Committee communications shop last cycle, working under communications directors Lisa Miller and Danny Diaz. A native Tar Heel, Thompson graduated from University of North Carolina at Wilmington in 2007.

Josh Kurtz and David M. Drucker contributed to this report.

Submit campaign staffing news and tips to Shop Talk here.

Correction: May 8, 2009

The article incorrectly reported some of the duties of the consultants working for Greg Ball, a Republican Congressional candidate in New York. The Traz Group is doing voter contact mail. Jamestown Associates is handling media.

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