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Jersey Native Looks to Shore up GOP Senate Majority

NRSC’s DuHaime Has Broad Résumé, Family Political Pedigree

Third in a series of profiles of committee independent expenditure directors.

“If it wasn’t for Mike DuHaime, I wouldn’t be a Senator today,” New Jersey state Sen. Anthony Bucco (R) recalled recently about a campaign that took place almost 13 years ago.

After this year’s elections, more than a dozen GOP Senate candidates might be saying the same thing.

Earlier this year, the National Republican Senatorial Committee announced DuHaime would direct the committee’s independent expenditure effort, which will fund the committee’s television ad blitzes and direct mail this fall.

“Mike DuHaime is a seasoned and well-respected strategist whose political skills and experience will greatly benefit Senate Republican candidates in the months ahead,” NRSC Chairman John Cornyn (Texas) said. Because of campaign finance law, tens of millions of dollars will be spent through the IE unit without coordination with NRSC staff.

“We wanted someone with a broad array of experience — someone who’s worked on several campaigns and inside the committees, and Mike more than met that criteria,” NRSC Executive Director Rob Jesmer said.

When DuHaime was political director for the Republican National Committee during the 2006 election cycle, he hired Jesmer and Randy Bumps as two of his regional political directors. Bumps was the NRSC’s political director this cycle until earlier this year, when he moved to the IE side to advise DuHaime.

Politics Is a Family Sport

Republican strategists believe DuHaime’s diverse résumé will serve the party well in November. He has run campaigns when the political wind was at his back but also when it was in his face, and he has national experience from the RNC and running a presidential campaign.

But some of his most valuable experience comes from his native New Jersey, where politics was a daily sport for the DuHaime family.

DuHaime’s mother was mayor of Bloomingdale, a small town in the northern tip of the state where he grew up. His father was a Passaic County Freeholder who ran for Senate in 1996.

“I was sitting around the table listening to the so-called experts and the only person making any sense was Michael,” said GOP consultant Mark Campbell, who was working on the race. “I told him to give me a call after he graduated [from college] and I’d give him a job.”

His father lost the GOP primary to then-Rep. Dick Zimmer, but DuHaime finished his political science and journalism degrees at Rutgers University and landed a job with Campbell’s consulting firm.

In 1997, Bucco, then a New Jersey assemblyman, tapped DuHaime to manage his state Senate race.

“I was 23 years old and didn’t have $20 in my bank account but had $750,000 in the campaign account,” recalled DuHaime, now 37. “I basically lived in the headquarters. I had to learn everything.”

According to Bucco, DuHaime was relentless. After Bucco finished a long day of campaigning, he came back to headquarters to find DuHaime glued to his computer screen. Bucco left for the evening, but when he arrived early the next morning, he found DuHaime in the same position “and the couch in the back office wasn’t even rumpled.”

Bucco won a competitive primary and knocked off Democratic state Sen. Gordon MacInnes in the general election even though he was outspent in both races.

Going National

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