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Jersey Native Looks to Shore up GOP Senate Majority

MacInnes wouldn’t be the last incumbent DuHaime would take down.

DuHaime went back to work as a consultant at Campbell & Pusateri, where he helped Pennsylvania businessman Don Sherwood hold a GOP open seat in 1998.

In 2000, DuHaime became deputy campaign manager for the Senate campaign of then-Rep. Bob Franks (R-N.J.), where he promptly “ran into Jon Corzine’s money.” Franks was severely outspent and narrowly lost by 3 points.

“It was a tough loss, but we had to be so creative and aggressive and disciplined,” DuHaime said.

After a stint as executive director for the New Jersey Republican State Committee, national Republicans started to take notice, and in 2004, DuHaime was hired to be the Northeast regional political director for the Bush/Cheney re-election campaign.

“Mike understood campaigns in a very tough region,” said former RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman, who hired DuHaime at the RNC after Bush won re-election. “He always had a strategic vision and was a good manager.”

After a tough 2006 election cycle, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani (R) hired DuHaime to be his presidential campaign manager. The campaign chose to focus on Florida, instead of playing in the earlier primary and caucus states, and it planned to use Gov. Charlie Crist’s endorsement as a launching pad.

“We tried a different route because we felt like we had to,” DuHaime said. Based on the dynamics of the crowded field, ideology and primary calendar, Giuliani couldn’t just cruise into Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina and hope to win.

But when Crist turned his back on Giuliani at the last second and switched his support to Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), the strategy crumbled.

The experience wasn’t a total loss.

“It’s like starting a multimillion-dollar business from nothing. You’ve got to get phones, office space, everything,” DuHaime said about running a presidential campaign.

Revenge Is Sweet

This year DuHaime is tasked with assembling teams of pollsters and media consultants in at least a dozen races — and he’s doing it all from his office at Mercury Public Affairs in New York, making him the only IE director not based in Washington, D.C.

Crist’s decision to help torpedo Giuliani’s campaign may come back to bite the former GOP governor, who is now running for Senate as an Independent. If Crist becomes the de facto Democratic nominee, DuHaime and the NRSC may choose to spend millions of dollars against him.

It wouldn’t be the first time DuHaime has had the opportunity to avenge an earlier loss.

Last year, former U.S. Attorney Chris Christie (R) hired DuHaime to be his chief strategist in his race against Corzine, who was elected governor of New Jersey in 2005. “He knew what had gone wrong in past races and how we were going to be different,” Christie said recently.

Just like in 2000, DuHaime’s candidate faced Corzine’s checkbook.

“Mike had to resist the temptation to spend too much too early,” said Christie, who credited DuHaime with sticking to the campaign plan as Corzine flexed his financial muscle. “Mike was very disciplined and knew where and when to spend.”

Christie prevailed 49 percent to 45 percent, giving Republicans a boost in optimism heading into 2010.

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