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Shop Talk: Virginia Is for Consultant Candidates

Terry McAuliffe isn’t the only political puppeteer running for office in Virginia in 2009. In addition to the former Democratic National Committee chairman — who is seeking the Democratic nomination for governor — several political consultants and former aides are hitting the campaign trail to boost their own bids.

Just slightly south of McAuliffe on the ballot, Michael Signer and Rich Savage are running for the Democratic nod for lieutenant governor. Signer served as a deputy counselor to Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) when Warner was governor, plus he worked as a senior strategist for now-Rep. Tom Perriello’s (D-Va.) 2008 campaign. Savage is a Richmond, Va.-based political consultant who has worked on several state Senate and House of Delegates races.

Meanwhile, Republican Barbara Comstock is challenging freshman Del. Margi Vanderhye for a Fairfax County-based seat that includes areas around Great Falls and McLean. A partner at the firm Corallo Comstock, the former Justice Department spokeswoman was a senior adviser to former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney’s (R) 2008 presidential campaign and a former research director at the Republican National Committee in the 2000 cycle.

Adam Parkhomenko, a former aide on now-Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s presidential campaign, is in a competitive Democratic primary for an open House of Delegates seat in the Arlington area. After the Clinton campaign, Parkhomenko worked as a staff analyst for CyberTipline at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

But Parkhomenko and Comstock don’t have to quit their day jobs just yet. The House of Delegates is a part-time gig that only pays a salary of about $17,640.

Nick of Time. Brian Nick, a longtime aide to former Sen. Elizabeth Dole (R-N.C.), has joined Strategic Perceptions Inc., the Hollywood-based media firm run by Republican ad man Fred Davis. Nick will open and manage the firm’s new Washington, D.C., office.

As director of communications and strategic development, Nick said his portfolio will be mostly political work, including campaigns and several issue advocacy organizations.

“I’m very excited to have the opportunity to work with the most creative mind in the business in Fred Davis and a very talented Strategic Perception team,” Nick said in a statement.

Nick most recently served as Dole’s chief of staff, following stints as her communications director in the Senate and during her tenure at the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

Strategic Perceptions has done work for the GOP presidential campaigns of Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) and former President George W. Bush, as well as statewide races for Sens. Lamar Alexander (Tenn.), Bob Corker (Tenn.) and John Cornyn (Texas).

Parking It. The Ohio-based Republican consulting firm Matthew D. Parker and Associates has picked up P.J. Wenzel as senior vice president for the firm.

Wenzel most recently served as the Midwest political director for Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney’s presidential primary campaign, followed by a stint as campaign manager for Ohio state Sen. Kirk Schuring’s (R) failed bid in the 16th Congressional district.

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