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Shop Talk: Santorum Staffs Up for 2012 in Granite State

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Former Sen. Rick Santorum is the first prospective presidential candidate to announce a New Hampshire chairman and state director.

Former Reagan administration official and longtime campaign activist Claira Monier has been tapped to chair likely Republican presidential hopeful Rick Santorum’s New Hampshire political action committee.

The former Pennsylvania Senator, who was defeated in 2006, becomes the first prospective candidate to announce both a New Hampshire chairman and a state director.

He selected Mike Biundo, the campaign manager for Rep. Frank Guinta (R-N.H.), to fill the director’s role earlier this month.

Monier volunteered for Mitt Romney in the 2008 cycle, but she told Roll Call that Santorum is less “robotic” and “more personable” than the former Massachusetts governor.

She will be leading recruitment efforts across New Hampshire and has helped arrange recent visits.

Monier, the widow of former state Senate President Robert Monier, previously served as regional administrator for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in the Reagan administration and for 20 years was executive director of the New Hampshire Housing Finance Authority.

Monier brings a healthy dose of enthusiasm to the Santorum camp, in addition to a network that took decades to build.

“Nobody is doing anything in the New Hampshire primary, so if I come out now, I get a lot of national press,” she said, laughing. She noted that Santorum has visited the Granite State nine times, with three more visits scheduled so far.

Back to the Future

Kirsten Kukowski has returned to the Republican National Committee’s press shop. Kukowski started as a regional press secretary at the RNC in the summer of 2009, but she left to work on the campaign of Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.). Before coming to the RNC, Kukowski worked for former Rep. Mark Green (R-Wis.) and the Republican Party of Wisconsin, where she worked for now-RNC Chairman Reince Priebus.

Compute This

Deirdre Murphy, former Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee press secretary, is transitioning to the private sector. On Wednesday, she started in external communications at IBM’s Washington, D.C., office and is focusing on its Smarter Planet program.

Murphy joined the DSCC for the 2010 cycle after working for Sens. Michael Bennet (Colo.) and Charles Schumer (N.Y.). She also worked on then-Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign.

He Calls It a Comeback

Former Sen. George Allen (R-Va.) on Monday officially announced his long-expected entrance to the race for his old seat, and he is compiling a campaign team of top consultants.

Still unofficial is the impending hire of Tim Murtaugh, which Roll Call first reported Wednesday. Murtaugh served as a spokesman at the Republican Governors Association in 2010 and as communications director for the Virginia Republican Party before that. He also worked for failed Virginia gubernatorial candidate Jerry Kilgore (R).

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