Former Missouri Treasurer Sarah Steelman (R), who is running for Senate in Missouri, has hired Florida-based strategist Rick Wilson to help reinvigorate her beleaguered campaign. Roll Call has learned that Wilson was brought on by the Steelman campaign late last week.
Steelman, who announced her Senate bid in early December, has suffered from lackluster fundraising and personnel changes — her original campaign manager and communications director are no longer with the campaign. She raised $187,000 in the first quarter of this year but spent $182,000 in the same period.
Wilson, who is based in Tallahassee, Fla., and has been a media consultant since 1994, has worked for Rudy Giuliani, former Vermont Gov. Jim Douglas (R), the Republican Governors Association, the Republican National Committee and a number of Florida campaigns. He is perhaps most well-known for a few of his more controversial ads, including one for Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) that used an image of Osama bin Laden to attack then-Sen. Max Cleland (D), a triple-amputee Vietnam War veteran.
He also made an ad connecting President Barack Obama to the Rev. Jeremiah Wright for the National Republican Trust Political Action Committee. The tag line for the TV spot, which aired in the final days of 2008 campaign, was: “Barack Obama. Too radical, too risky.”
Wilson was bullish on Steelman’s chances in the Republican primary. She is the only candidate in the race but is widely expected to be joined by Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.), who is expected to announce on Tuesday, and St. Louis businessman John Brunner soon.
“Sarah’s campaign is in turnaround, and she’s bringing in a new, aggressive team so Missouri Republicans have a strong, conservative voice in the race to send Claire McCaskill packing,” Wilson said in a statement to Roll Call. “I am fully confident Sarah will not only be competitive financially, but that her message, values and conservative principles will resonate with Missouri Republicans.”
The GOP nominee will face first-term Sen. Claire McCaskill (D) in November 2012. Roll Call Politics rates this race a tossup.