Editor’s Note: The Players and Down on the Farm columns will return the week of Jan. 19, when Roll Call resumes publishing four days a week. Traci Siegel, political director at the Democratic National Committee, was lured away recently by an organization called Progressive Majority. Siegel will become senior political strategist for the group’s political action committee, PROPAC, which is the left’s answer to former Speaker Newt Gingrich’s (R-Ga.) GOPAC.
Progressive Majority is establishing PROPAC in targeted swing states to build a farm team of liberal candidates who can run for high office in the not too distant future.
Siegel has been at the DNC for the past several years. Prior to becoming political director at the beginning of 2003, she had been director of the DNC’s Women’s Vote Center since 2001, and she led the Women’s Leadership Forum at the DNC from 1999 to 2001. She has also been the head of the Maryland chapter of NARAL Pro-Choice America and was deputy political director and program director at the Women’s Campaign Fund.
At PROPAC, Siegel will be reunited with Progressive Majority Executive Director Gloria Totten, who preceded her as director of Maryland NARAL.
New Partner. Fletcher & Rowley Consulting, the Nashville-based political and corporate media firm, has promoted Ben Chao to partner. He previously served the firm as senior vice president. The firm will now be known as Fletcher, Rowley & Chao.
Chao is a veteran of close to 100 Democratic races across the country and has also served nonprofit, corporate and government clients such as the NAACP, General Mills, Delta Airlines and the Defense Department.
Fair and Ballast. Dave Rogers (R), the former Navy SEAL challenging Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-R.I.), expanded his campaign apparatus last month by hiring a Fox News correspondent.
Molly Falconer de Ramel, who left Fox earlier this year, has been named Rogers’ communications director.
Falconer had been with Fox since 1998, serving as an anchor, general assignment reporter and national financial correspondent. Prior to that she worked for WCBS-TV in New York City.
Crystal Clear. The Baughman Company, a San Francisco-based persuasion mail firm, has hired veteran political strategist Crystal Litz.
Litz, a Kentucky native, specializes in managing Democratic campaigns in marginal districts. In 2003, she managed a legislative campaign in New Jersey to increase Medicaid funding for nursing homes. In 2002, she was campaign manager for then-Rep. David Phelps (D-Ill.), who lost a Member-versus-Member contest forced by redistricting.
The Baughman Company primarily services Democrats — its clients include former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean’s (D) presidential campaign — but it also helped elect Republican Michael Bloomberg mayor of New York in 2001.
Ryan’s Hope. Frank Ryan, one of several Republicans seeking to unseat Rep. Tim Holden (D-Pa.) this year, has elevated his political director, Shannon Bibbee, to the position of campaign manager.
Bibbee, who joined the campaign in August, has worked for GOP presidential candidates Steve Forbes and George W. Bush and has also managed local, state and federal campaigns in Ohio and West Virginia. She has family ties to the east central Pennsylvania 17th district, where Republicans are hoping to deny Holden a seventh term.
Ryan, one of the leading Republicans in the race, is an accountant and retired military officer.
From Garden State to Garden Path. Robert Zucker, a nine-year veteran of Capitol Hill, has joined Winning Strategies Washington LLC, a bipartisan government relations firm, as vice president. He will focus on transportation authorization, appropriations, health, education, defense and homeland security, among other areas.
Zucker, who served most recently as legislative director for Rep. Steve Rothman (D-N.J.), is the latest veteran of a Garden State Member’s staff to join the firm. WSW Managing Partner Donna Mullins is a former chief of staff to Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (D-N.J.), and partner Mike Merola is a former deputy chief of staff to ex-Sen. Robert Torricelli (D-N.J.).
Zogby’s Latest Find. Shawnta Watson Walcott has been named the new director of communications for Zogby International, the Washington, D.C.- and Utica, N.Y.-based polling firm. She is the firm’s first communications director to be based in Washington.
Watson Walcott has held several jobs in state and national politics, including serving as a program officer for the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs and as a political director for the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition.
Duncan McCully, who had been Zogby’s director of communications, has been promoted to vice president of marketing for the polling firm. He is based in Utica.
Conti Your Blessings. Gene Conti is set to begin work this month as campaign manager to North Carolina Senate candidate Erskine Bowles (D).
Conti, the No. 2 official at the North Carolina Department of Transportation until June, had been working part-time for Rep. Brad Miller (D-N.C.) in an effort to complete 20 years of Congressional service, that included a long stint with Rep. David Price (D-N.C.). He’ll continue to work for Miller temporarily while he’s working for Bowles.
Bowles, who was the 2002 Democratic Senate nominee in the Tar Heel State, is squaring off against Rep. Richard Burr (R) this year. Craig Schirmer was his campaign manager during his 2002 race against now-Sen. Elizabeth Dole (R).
Bowles is also getting a new media consultant this cycle. Instead of working with Saul Schorr, who was the consultant for his campaign in 2002, Bowles will use Frank Greer, a veteran Democratic consultant.
Rise of the House of Usher. The Mellman Group, a Democratic and corporate polling firm, recently named Doug Usher as a vice president.
Usher has served several clients for the firm, including Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) and Carl Levin (D-Mich.), Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), the National Education Association, the California Teachers Association, and the Democratic National Committee.
Spirit of ’76. This has gotten some play, but in a presidential election year — and with so much attention continuing to be focused on former President Ronald Reagan — it bears repeating.
Craig Shirley, president of Shirley and Bannister Public Affairs, a D.C.-based firm, has signed a contract with WND Books to write a book about Reagan’s unsuccessful presidential campaign of 1976.
The book, “Reagan’s Revolution: The Untold Story of the Campaign That Started it All,” will chronicle Reagan’s challenge to then-President Gerald Ford, who barely defeated Reagan in a protracted fight for the Republican presidential nomination. Shirley, a veteran Republican strategist, will argue that while Ford ultimately lost the 1976 general election to Democrat Jimmy Carter, the Reagan campaign that year helped define the modern GOP and paved the way for several important Republican victories in the decades that followed.
“‘Reagan’s Revolution’ will show how Reagan changed the Republican Party from being a junior varsity version of the Democratic Party into its own, ideologically based national movement,” Shirley said in a statement. “The world would be a far different place today without the 1976 Reagan for President campaign.”
Last Word. Eddie Rose, potential candidate for the Orange County (Calif.) Board of Supervisors, has set up a noteworthy political Web site. On it, instead of listing people who have endorsed his candidacy, Rose, according to the Los Angeles Times, has provided the names of some notorious people who do not support him. The list includes Yasser Arafat, Robert Blake, Fidel Castro, Martha Stewart, O.J. Simpson and Los Angeles Mayor James Hahn.
Nicole Duran contributed to this report.