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Shop Talk: Cox Staying Put Ahead of 2014 Gubernatorial Races

State parties begin focusing on the future with news about leadership elections in Maine, Michigan and Kansas

Phil Cox, executive director of the Republican Governors Association, said he is planning to keep his current post through the 2014 cycle.

Cox, who managed the 2009 campaign of Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, the outgoing RGA chairman, replaced Nick Ayers as executive director in January 2011. He oversaw a net gain of one governorship in 2012.

Next year, under incoming Chairman Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, Cox will oversee the race to replace McDonnell and Republican Gov. Chris Christie’s re-election in New Jersey. A majority of states will elect governors in 2014.

RGA Press Secretary Jon Thompson said the RGA’s “continuity and long-term focus is important because it allows us to enter an election cycle in which more than 75 percent of states are holding governors’ races, while the RGA holds a healthy eight-digit cash on hand figure, an executive director who knows how the RGA operates from both the RGA perspective and as a campaign manager’s perspective, and puts us in good position to build on the success of 2012 when we were the only GOP committee to make gains.”

In 2009, Cox helped lead McDonnell to victory after two straight Democratic governors in Virginia and after President Barack Obama became the first Democrat to carry the state since 1964. When he joined the RGA in 2011, Cox had served as a campaign manager of or general consultant to more than 100 campaigns in 10 years, including as an RGA operative in 2010.

When the Music Stops

News about the future leadership of state parties did not slow down over Thanksgiving week.

In Maine, the Kennebec Journal reported that the next leader of the state GOP will be decided next month between state Reps. Beth O’Connor, who lost her first bid for re-election on Nov. 6, and Rich Cebra, who was term- limited from running again. Outgoing Chairman Charlie Webster apologized earlier this month after claiming potential voter fraud based on “dozens” of African-Americans voting in rural Maine precincts.

Michigan GOP Chairman Bobby Schostak announced last week that he is seeking re- election. Schostak cited the GOP’s success in 2012 in keeping majorities in the state House, state Supreme Court and Congressional delegation, as well as cutting President Barack Obama’s winning margin in the state.

In Kansas, Kelly Arnold, the Sedgwick County clerk and current state GOP vice chairman, became the first person to announce a run for chairman, the Wichita Eagle reported.

The newspaper reported that Arnold would be the first chairman from the Wichita area since the 1970s and that the party will decide its leadership at its annual Kansas Day state convention in Topeka in late January.

CD2

A small Democratic consulting shop in Portland, Maine, gained some local press for the television and online advertisements it produced for various campaigns that gained national attention in 2012.

According to the profile in the Bangor Daily News, media firm CD2 received wide acclaim for its work on Maine’s successful same-sex marriage ballot initiative and a template for its work on that campaign was used in other states around the country.

CD2, led by Maine natives Jim Cole, Aaron Duffey and David Loughran, did work for Sen.-elect Elizabeth Warren in Massachusetts and Gov.-elect Maggie Hassan in New Hampshire.

Please send news of developments in the political industry to shoptalk@rollcall.com.

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