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With 2012 Field Solidifying, Talent Market Heats Up

Ken Lambert/AP
Doug Gross, shown here campaigning for Iowa governor in 2002 with President George W. Bush, had hoped that Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels would run for president. Gross would give a candidate access to the state’s GOP governor.

Haus has racked up several top finishes in the caucuses, including when he ran former Sen. Fred Thompson’s (R-Tenn.) caucus campaign in 2008, which came in third place, and when he served as a senior consultant to businessman Steve Forbes, who came in second in the 2000 caucuses. Haus also ran then-Sen. Phil Gramm’s caucus operation in 1996, when the Texas Republican came in fifth place.

Regardless, any candidate who picks up Haus this round will have an immediate connection with one of the most influential Republicans in the state. Haus, a public affairs consultant by day, boasts a close relationship with Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) and produced all of the advertisements for his 2010 race.

Doug Gross

Gross was hopeful that Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels (R) would jump into the race, but now that he’s out, the lawyer who chaired former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney’s (R) 2008 caucus operation is officially back on the market.

“I’m just reassessing the entire field now that Daniels has said he won’t get in. I’m hoping to make a decision by the end of the month,” said Gross, Iowa’s GOP gubernatorial nominee in 2002.

Known for his strategic thinking and deep Iowa roots, Gross boasts deep-pocketed connections as the former Iowa finance co-chairman for President George W. Bush during both of his presidential campaigns.

Any Republican candidate who taps Gross also picks up another big prize: proxy access to Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad (R). In addition to being one of the governor’s best friends, Gross was a top adviser in all five of Branstad’s gubernatorial races and served as his chief of staff from 1984 to 1989.

Steve Grubbs

Grubbs is a true veteran of the Iowa caucuses after participating in almost every presidential caucus in the state for almost 30 years; he even met his wife at the 1984 caucuses when President Ronald Reagan was running for re-election. Grubbs has yet to sign on to help a candidate, but he told Roll Call that he’s open to the possibility.

Grubbs’ GOP peers praise him for his “great analytical mind,” but the former Iowa Republican Party chairman also has loads of experience. He was on the field staff for then-Sen. Bob Dole in 1988, served as the Kansas Republican’s caucus chairman in his 1996 presidential race and advised Steve Forbes in 2000. However, Grubbs was less successful in 2008, when he consulted for former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson’s (R) caucus campaign.

Chuck Laudner

As the most recent executive director of the Iowa Republican Party, Laudner was a neutral player last presidential cycle. But as a result of that gig, he knows the Ames Straw Poll game inside and out, and he would therefore be valuable to any GOP candidate looking to compete in Iowa.

Laudner, who has major pull within the evangelical activist community, most recently served as campaign chairman for the operation that successfully ousted three judges for striking down the state’s gay marriage ban.

Laudner is also close to Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) and served as one of his top aides for many years. He told Roll Call that he’s open to signing on to help a candidate but that he’s in no hurry to do so.

New Hampshire

Mike Dennehy

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