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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.

Katie Wright, who most recently served as deputy communications director at the Republican National Committee, is already in place as Allen’s communications director. Wright worked at the RNC for the past two cycles, and she previously worked for Allen at the end of his unsuccessful 2006 campaign and at the National Republican Senatorial Committee in 2004, when Allen served as chairman.

As Washington Post blog “The Fix” reported Monday, Allen brought in John McLaughlin as pollster, Abbey Farris for fundraising and Scott Howell & Co. for media. Dan Allen of Scott Howell & Co. will serve as a senior adviser.

Open for Business

Democratic consultant John Balduzzi recently opened his own general consulting shop. The Balduzzi Group will be based out of Washington, D.C., and Balduzzi’s hometown of Syracuse, N.Y.

For nearly three years, Balduzzi was political director at D.C.-based Kennedy Communications, where he consulted unions, state parties and candidates at nearly every level.

The Balduzzi Group will mostly perform general consulting for Democratic House campaigns and research services for Senate campaigns.

Balduzzi previously worked for Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), as campaign manager for the 2006 election of former Rep. Dan Maffei (D-N.Y.), and as a researcher and regional press secretary for the Democratic National Committee and the 2004 presidential campaign of Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.).

He got his start in politics at age 7, putting up Mario Cuomo for Governor lawn signs.

New Voice for White House

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters Wednesday that “it won’t be long” before President Barack Obama selects his replacement. He is leaving after two years to pursue other opportunities that are likely to include working on Obama’s re-election campaign.

“I anticipate that the president is actually quite close in that,” Gibbs told reporters aboard Air Force One en route to Wisconsin. “And I anticipate that I will, as I’ve said, probably leave around sometime in mid-February.”

Briefly Noted

• Longtime Democratic campaign operatives Dan Kully and Brandon Hall are starting their own media firm. Kully will anchor the firm in Seattle, while Hall will be based in Washington, D.C. The new firm’s release noted that Kully is best known for the ads that he created for Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) during his 2006 campaign. Hall managed the 2010 re-election campaign of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.).

• Colorado Democrats Jim Carpenter and Mike Stratton have formed a new consulting firm, according to the Denver Post. Carpenter managed Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar’s 2004 Senate bid and served as chief of staff to former Gov. Bill Ritter, while Stratton is “a longtime strategist,” according to the paper. The firm will be called Stratton-Carpenter & Associates.

• Adam Weiss was named assistant director of political affairs at the American Optometric Association. Weiss, a New York native, previously worked for Rep. Dave Loebsack (D-Iowa), Iowa Democratic Senate candidate Roxanne Conlin, the National Association of Letter Carriers and the American Association for Justice.

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