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Shop Talk: Obama’s 2012 Campaign Team Is Shaping Up

Courtesy White House
Katie Hogan, seen sitting at an Obama event, is becoming deputy press secretary for the 2012 campaign. She traveled the world with the president and helped wrangle the press.

Ben LaBolt will take over as press secretary on President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign next month, after his duties as communications director for Chicago Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel’s campaign are completed.

The Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun-Times first reported the news, which also included the addition of Katie Hogan to serve as Obama’s deputy press secretary.

LaBolt has worked for Obama since 2007, serving as press secretary in his Senate office before moving over as a campaign spokesman. He handled rapid response and is known for his aggressive style and often served as the point man for rebutting stories critical of Obama. LaBolt was press secretary on the 2006 campaign of Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio).

He was a White House assistant press secretary until October, when Emanuel took him to Chicago, where Obama’s campaign will be based again.

Hogan, a Chicago native, also worked on the 2008 campaign and in the White House. She has been responsible for working directly with the campaign press corps and with the traveling press, helping them with everything from finding wireless networks to shouting “Last question!” at impromptu press conferences.

More Obama Team

Beyond LaBolt and Hogan, the rest of the Obama team has been taking shape for the past few months. Jim Messina, chief of staff on the 2008 campaign and most recently White House deputy chief of staff, will serve as campaign manager.

Deputy campaign managers are Jennifer O’Malley Dillon, formerly the Democratic National Committee executive director, and Julianna Smoot, a top fundraiser, 2008 veteran and former White House social secretary.

Down the line are Finance Director Rufus Gifford, Deputy Finance Director Elizabeth Lowery, National Field Director Jeremy Bird, Deputy National Field Director Marlon Marshall, Battleground States Director Mitch Stewart and Research Director Elizabeth Jarvis-Shean. Stewart and Bird have been the key players at Organizing for America, the spinoff of the Obama campaign housed at the DNC since the president took office.

New Keyes to the NRCC

The National Republican Congressional Committee recently hired Christyn Keyes as director of radio and TV. Keyes replaces Jon Thompson, who left to become press secretary at the Republican Governors Association.

Keyes was deputy press secretary on the campaign of Rep. Steve Chabot (R-Ohio) last year to take back the Cincinnati-based seat that Chabot lost in 2008. She then served as a legislative correspondent.

The Hudson, Ohio, native and Miami University graduate previously interned on the campaign of Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), for Rep. Steven LaTourette (R-Ohio) and at the Normandy Group.

Keyes joins a team led by Communications Director Paul Lindsay and Deputy Communications Director Joanna Burgos. The regional press secretaries are Andrea Bozek, Tyler Houlton and Tory Mazzola. Ted Kwong is deputy press secretary, and Emily Davis is director of leadership communications.

Lerner-ing a New DNC Job

News that Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz is taking over as chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee isn’t the only change afoot there.

Jeffrey Lerner signed on in mid-March as the new DNC political director. Lerner was most recently the southern regional political director at the White House.

Previously he worked at the Dan Klores Communications firm in New York, served as communications director for then-New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo and then was political director at Change to Win, the 2008 labor union coalition that backed President Barack Obama.

Speaking of DNC Change

Democratic National Committee Deputy Press Secretary Brandi Hoffine is following her boss to Virginia to serve as former Gov. Tim Kaine’s Senate campaign spokeswoman. Mo Elleithee, a veteran of Kaine’s 2005 gubernatorial campaign, is helping the communications team out during the announcement and transition period. The rest of the Kaine staff has yet to be announced.

Ex-Reid Aide Heads to Super PAC

Rodell Mollineau, a former top aide to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, has been named president of American Bridge 21st Century, a new political action committee and research organization formed to help Democratic candidates compete with a host of similar conservative groups that emerged during the 2010 election cycle.

Mollineau spent the previous four years running the communications war room for the Senate Democratic Conference and played an integral role for Reid down the stretch of the Democrat’s successful re-election campaign.

American Bridge 21st Century is a recently launched “Democratic Super PAC” and accompanying 501(c)(4) that will attempt to elect Democrats to the House and Senate in 2012.

According to a press release issued by the group, Mollineau “will lead the overall efforts of the Super Pac and its companion 501(c)(4) foundation to build a permanent progressive counterweight to the outside Republican groups that took hold of the electoral process in 2010.”

Meanwhile, Bradley Beychok, campaign manager for ex-Rep. Charlie Melancon’s (D) failed challenge of Sen. David Vitter (R-La.), will serve as the group’s campaign director.

DCCC Regionals Cross Campus

Two Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee regional press secretaries from the 2010 cycle have moved to the Senate side of campus.

Shripal Shah, who was the northeastern press secretary, will serve as press secretary for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee in the 2012 cycle. Matt Canter previously moved over from the office of Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) to serve as communications director.

Andy Stone, who handled races in the West in 2008, is now press secretary for Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), who won re-election to a fourth term last year.

The DCCC, which is under new leadership, has yet to announce its regional press secretaries for the 2012 cycle. The NRCC announced its communications team in January.

David M. Drucker contributed to this report.

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