Hart Transplant

Posted February 4, 2004 at 6:11pm

No sooner did former Sen. Gary Hart (D-Colo.) announce that he would not seek to reclaim his old seat than one of the declared Democrats in the Centennial State race procured the services of one of his top fundraisers.

Michael Miles, a school administrator who is, for now, the Democratic frontrunner in the race to take on Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell (R), this week signed Melinda Paterson to raise money for his underdog campaign.

Paterson, who is based in Colorado, was finance director for Hart’s ill-fated presidential campaign in 1988. She has also worked for several other candidates and causes in Colorado — most recently for Ari Zavaras, an unsuccessful (but well-funded) candidate for mayor of Denver in 2003.

“She’s the best in the business,” said Miles’ campaign chairman, Steve Naples.

Howdy, Partners. Having taken on two additional partners, the Democratic media firm formerly known as Doak, Carrier and O’Donnell, will now be known as Doak, Carrier, O’Donnell, Wilkinson, Goldman & Associates.

The Wilkinson in the mix is Frank Wilkinson, a former communications director for EMILY’s List who has written media campaigns and speeches for a variety of organizations. His essays have appeared in a number of publications, including The New York Times, The Washington Post and The New Republic.

The Goldman is Mattis Goldman, who has produced media and provided strategic advice for a number of campaigns, including for freshman Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.). He was also a spokesman for then-Vice President Al Gore’s presidential campaign in 2000.

Clay Figures. Georgia state Sen. Chuck Clay, a Republican candidate for the Peach State’s 6th district seat being vacated by Rep. Johnny Isakson (R), has added to his campaign team.

Clay has hired Conner Poe, a former political director of the Arkansas Republican Party, to be his campaign manager. Poe returns to Georgia after also serving as campaign manager for Rep. Jay Dickey (R-Ark.) in 2002.

A native of Alpharetta, Ga., Poe was campaign field director for then-Rep. Bob Barr (R-Ga.) in 2000. He has also been a field director for the National Rifle Association.

Liz Young, a former finance director for the late Sen. Paul Coverdell (R-Ga.), is joining the Clay campaign in that capacity. She is a finance consultant and special events coordinator for political and corporate clients, and she has worked for President Bush, Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R), Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-Ga.), former Rep. Rick Lazio (R-N.Y.), the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Georgia Republican Party, among others.

A Homecoming, of Sorts. Brent Heberlee, a native Nevadan, has been named government affairs counsel for Lionel, Sawyer & Collins, Nevada’s largest law firm. He will be based in Washington, D.C.

Heberlee has a decade of experience on Capitol Hill and comes to the firm from telecommunications giant SBC Communications, where he was executive director of federal relations.

Heberlee was chief policy adviser to former Sen. Richard Bryan (D-Nev.), who is now managing partner of the law firm’s D.C. office, and was also legislative director for then-Rep. Jim Bilbray (D-Nev.).

Selling Torsella. Joe Torsella, candidate for the 13th district Democratic nomination in Pennsylvania, has hired Rachel Cohen Naselsky to be his campaign finance director.

Naselsky, who was raised in the 13th district, which includes parts of Philadelphia and its inner suburbs, comes to the Torsella campaign after having served as finance director for Philadelphia Mayor John Street’s (D) 2003 re-election bid, during which she successfully raised more than $12 million. Prior to joining the mayor’s campaign, Naselsky was a practicing commercial litigator in Philadelphia.

Torsella, former director of the National Constitution Center, is one of two Democrats competing for the right to replace Rep. Joe Hoeffel (D), who is running for Senate. Both the Democratic and Republican primaries are expected to be highly competitive.

Naselsky clearly has her work cut out for her. While Torsella had a healthy $583,000 in the bank on Dec. 31, his primary opponent, state Sen. Allyson Schwartz (D), was sitting on $847,000.

Homebody. Pittsburgh-based Republican media consultant John Brabender is not, repeat, is not relocating to Washington, D.C. — despite rumors to that effect.

Brabender is, however, house hunting in the D.C. area, which may have prompted all the speculation. His national political advertising firm, BrabenderCox, has offices in Pittsburgh and D.C.

“I’m tired of staying in hotels,” Brabender told the Pittsburgh Business Times last month. “So I’m getting a residence. I spend my time split between Pittsburgh and Washington.”

Brabender will be sleeping in plenty of hotels anyway, with clients this cycle in Louisiana, South Carolina, New York, West Virginia and Colorado. As a Pennsylvania power broker, he also spends plenty of time in Harrisburg and Philadelphia.

Deciding on Decision. While three high-profile Republicans slug it out in the March 2 primary to replace retiring Rep. Doug Ose (R-Calif.), financial adviser Gabe Castillo, the likely Democratic nominee in the Sacramento-area district, is putting together his political team.

Castillo has hired Decision Research, the San Diego- and D.C.-based polling firm headed by Bob Meadow, to do survey research for the campaign. Decision Research joins media firm Fletcher-Rowley-Chao Inc. and fundraising consultant Ken Christensen, who have been working with the Castillo campaign since late last year.

Castillo will face the winner of the GOP primary featuring former California Attorney General Dan Lungren, state Sen. Rico Oller and businesswoman Mary Ose, the Congressman’s sister.

California (Delegation), Here She Comes. Stacey Leavadosky, who had been working as legislative director for Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-Calif.), is taking over as the lead staffer for the California Democratic House delegation, which is headed by Rep. Zoe Lofgren. Leavadosky replaces Pam Barry, who retired after holding the post for several years.

The lead staffer for the Republican delegation is Alisa Do, who works for Rep. David Dreier, head of the state’s House GOPers.

New Gig. A former counsel and press secretary to Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) has been named communications director for the National Breast Cancer Coalition, a Washington-based advocacy group.

Leslie Thomsen spent three years working for Stupak on Capitol Hill and was an environmental lawyer and mediator in the San Francisco area for 18 years before that. She has also been an advertising writer and a broadcasting advertising producer.