Bentivolio Primary Opponent Hires Top Team

Attorney David Trott announced his primary challenge to Rep. Kerry Bentivolio, R-Mich., last week, and now he’s assembled a top team to help him oust the vulnerable freshman.

Stu Sandler confirmed to CQ Roll Call that he will serve as the deep-pocketed attorney’s general consultant. Sandler has worked for several statewide candidates and organizations in Michigan.

Megan Piwowar confirmed she will be Trott’s campaign manager. She formerly served as the communications director for a GOP Senate campaign in Pennsylvania.

The Ohio-based firm The Strategy Group for Media will do Trott’s media, and Adam Geller will be his pollster, Sandler confirmed. A Bentivolio spokesman did not return an email request for information about his campaign team.

Bentivolio won his party’s nomination last year after re-election petitions for then-Rep. Thaddeus McCotter showed egregious signature errors. McCotter resigned, and Bentivolio — the other Republican on the ballot — won the nomination and his first term in Congress.

But the former reindeer rancher and veteran has struggled with fundraising. Bentivolio has raised only about $142,000 for his re-election during the first six months of this year. He also showed six figures in debt at the end of the last financial reporting period in June.

Carl’s Team for Congress

Now that it’s clear Republican Carl DeMaio will continue his bid for Congress in California, his political team has solidified as well.

Some Republicans thought DeMaio, a former San Diego councilman, would drop his House bid against vulnerable freshman Rep. Scott Peters, D-Calif., and instead run for San Diego mayor. Last year, DeMaio narrowly lost that office to Bob Filner, who recently resigned after several women accused him of sexual harassment.

This cycle, DeMaio marks one of the House GOP’s top recruits in a competitive race. His campaign team includes:

•Pollster: Dave Sackett of the Tarrance Group

•Television and digital consultant: Brian Donahue of CRAFT Media

•Communications director: Dave McCulloch of Circle24 Strategies Inc.

•Finance director: Magie Brennan

•D.C. PAC fundraiser: Sheryl Jahns of the Townsend Group

•Treasurer: Paul Kilgore of Professional Data Services

•Strategic adviser: Richard Grenell of Capitol Media Partners

A campaign spokesman added that the campaign will hire a manager in early 2014.

Peters defeated Republican Rep. Brian P. Bilbray in 2012 by about 3 points.

CRAFT Services

Republican media and digital firm CRAFT named John Randall as its new director of digital.

“John Randall is a rock star. From campaign committees to AOL to CRAFT, he’s always been a leader in the digital space,” CRAFT partner Brian Donahue said.

Most recently, Randall served as director of political advertising at AOL. He previously worked at the National Republican Congressional Committee and National Republican Senatorial Committee.

NRSC Replaces Finance Director

Heather Larrison will take over as the National Republican Senatorial Committee’s finance director, replacing Shelly Carson as the committee’s chief rainmaker.

An NRSC source portrayed the change as a mutual decision and a shifting of personnel to fit their strengths. Larrison will now concentration on day-to-day operations and management.

The NRSC named Carson as finance director in January.

Colorado Career Climb

Colorado GOP Chairman Ryan Call named Shana Kohn as his state party’s new executive director. The outgoing executive director, Chuck Poplstein, left the party for a gig as Colorado GOP Rep. Cory Gardner’s new district director

Kohn’s previous Colorado political experience includes the 2008 John McCain general-election campaign and state legislative politics. Most recently, she served as the Colorado Republican Party’s political director.

Mercury and B

Mercury, a public affairs strategy firm, announced last week that a former U.S. ambassador to Bahrain, Adam Ereli, joined the group’s Washington, D.C., office as a vice chairman.

“Adam’s knowledge and understanding of foreign affairs are second to none,” said former Rep. Vin Weber, R-Minn., a Mercury partner.

Ereli, also a former spokesman for the Department of State, served a bipartisan group of former secretaries of State, including James Baker, Warren Christopher, Madeleine Albright, Condoleezza Rice, Hillary Rodham Clinton and John Kerry.

To the ForeFront

Republican operative Craig Veith has joined Democratic spokesman Scott Williams to form ForeFront Strategies, a new Washington-based public affairs communications firm.

“At ForeFront, our clients will work with professionals with substantial portfolios of experience and the smarts to design, build and manage great communications campaigns,” Veith said in a release.

Virginia Democratic operative Jan Hyland will also join the new firm as a co-founder and partner.

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