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Shop Talk: Out of the Game

With redistricting complete, Paul Mitchell, a Democratic consultant and redistricting expert in California, has left campaign consulting to join Political Data Inc. as vice president.

The head of Redistricting Partners and RPdata will no longer work directly for any candidates, independent expenditures or ballot measures and will have no political allegiance, Mitchell said in an email announcing his move. He is joining Gary Brown, who bought Political Data this year, and is bringing along Jacob Thompson-Fisher, who has worked with Mitchell for the past year.

“Working in campaigns since 1992 and doing it as a full time job since 2004 has been an incredible experience,” Mitchell said. “I have fully enjoyed the highs, and tried to absorb the lows. But leaving that side of the profession was an easy decision.”

Chris Chaffee, who has worked with Mitchell for the past two years, is taking Mitchell’s campaign staff with him to the Chaffee Group. Redistricting Partners will continue its work with local government clients, and RPdata will continue with post-primary analysis for clients under the day-to-day leadership of Brian Martin.

“I am very grateful for the opportunities I have had to focus on the analytical side for the past two years and believe that PDI will be a perfect fit moving forward,” Mitchell said.

Texas Two-Step

Texas Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and former state Solicitor General Ted Cruz are facing off today in the Republican primary runoff for an open Senate seat, and both boast impressive consulting teams.

The Dewhurst campaign is led by campaign manager Buddy Barfield, senior adviser Dave Carney, media strategist Brad Todd of OnMessage, direct-mail firm Axiom Strategies and pollster Mike Baselice of Baselice & Associates.

Leading the Cruz campaign are campaign manager John Drogin, general and mail consultant Jason Johnson, media strategists Jon Downs and Danny Diaz of FP1 Strategies, pollster Chris Perkins of WPA Research, online strategist Vincent Harris of Harris Media, and fundraising consultants Oxford Communications and Erin DeLullo.

It Simms He’s a Maverick

Rob Simms is joining Red Maverick Media as a senior consultant, PoliticsPA.com reported.

Simms has served as chief of staff to Rep. Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) since December 2010. He was previously president of Persuasion Public Strategies and the Atlanta-based strategic partner at Creative Direct, a direct-mail firm.

Simms has also served as Georgia’s deputy secretary of state, as a partner at public affairs firm Massey, Bowers & Hembree, as chief of staff to Fulton County Commission Chairman Mike Kenn and as the director of government affairs for the Atlanta and Georgia Apartment Associations, according to his biography on the Creative Direct website.

Veteran GOP strategists Ray Zaborney, Mike Leavitt and Jen Holman Zaborney lead Red Maverick Media, which has offices in Harrisburg, Pa., Portland, Maine, and Alexandria, Va.

Zaborney is a longtime Pennsylvania strategist whose previous posts include working with Lynn Swann’s 2006 gubernatorial campaign and now-Gov. Tom Corbett. Leavitt is a former top aide to Michael Steele, including on Steele’s 2006 Senate run in Maryland and as chief of staff at the Republican National Committee. Holman Zaborney is a veteran finance strategist in Pennsylvania whose clients have included Corbett, among many others.

Back in the Mud

Dave “Mudcat” Saunders, a veteran Democratic strategist in Virginia, has made his way back to campaign politics after taking a more than three-year hiatus.

Saunders is advising the campaign of Wayne Powell, a retired Army officer who is waging an uphill battle against House Majority Leader Eric Cantor
(R-Va.) in a Republican-favored district.

Saunders has been on a media barnstorming tour in recent weeks in an effort to boost the name recognition of Powell, including appearances on MSNBC shows and a piece on the Huffington Post criticizing Cantor.

Best known for his work on now-Sen. Mark Warner’s (D-Va.) 2001 gubernatorial campaign, Saunders, a Roanoke-area resident, told Roll Call he took a reprieve from politics following the long days on the 2008 presidential campaign of former Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.). He also served as a senior strategist for Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.) in 2006.

Democratic pollster Harrison Hickman conducted a poll for Powell in early June that found Cantor up by double digits. Saunders said there is a path to victory if Powell can raise the money, increase Cantor’s unfavorable rating and benefit from the get-out-the-vote operation of both President Barack Obama and former Gov. Tim Kaine’s (D) Senate campaign.

Submit campaign staffing news and tips to Shop Talk here.

Correction: July 31, 5:08 p.m.

 An earlier version of this article misstated that Ted Prill works at Red Maverick Media. He no longer does.

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