DCCC to Name Lapp as Its Executive Director

Posted January 14, 2005 at 6:22pm

Newly installed Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Rahm Emanuel (Ill.) has chosen John Lapp to be executive director of the organization, a move that will be formalized as early as today.

“John Lapp understands firsthand what it takes to win in marginal districts and how to re-elect those candidates,” Emanuel said in an interview Friday.

Emanuel added that Lapp had already been courted by several would-be presidential candidates in 2008 to manage their fledgling campaigns.

Lapp’s new post caps a quick rise in campaign politics that began in 1998 when he managed Rep. Ken Lucas’ (D-Ky.) campaign.

Lucas won the open seat that cycle despite the decided Republican tilt of the district; Lapp went on to serve as chief of staff.

Bob Doyle, a consultant to the Lucas campaign, called Lapp “the most able political operative I have ever worked with.”

Lapp reprised his role on the Lucas campaign with New York Rep. Steve Israel in 2000, managing his open-seat victory and then serving as his top aide in Congress.

Lapp left that post in 2001 to serve as deputy chief of staff to Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack (D). He went on to manage Vilsack’s 2002 re-election victory and stayed in Iowa to run then-Rep. Richard Gephardt’s (Mo.) presidential campaign there.

Following that loss, Lapp bounced around, finishing the cycle as an associate with Murphy, Putnam Shorr & Partners — a top Democratic media consulting firm.

Emanuel and Lapp will face an experienced team of operatives across the aisle at the National Republican Congressional Committee.

New York Rep. Tom Reynolds is back for a second cycle as chairman of the NRCC after being unanimously re-elected in December.

Reynolds moved quickly to retain the senior staff that engineered House Republicans’ three-seat pickup in 2004.

Sally Vastola will again serve as executive director at the committee; Mike McElwain, Carl Forti and Tara Snow will reprise their roles as political director, communications director and finance director, respectively.

Jonathan Poe, who served as national field director in the 2004 cycle, will be deputy political director this cycle.

On the Senate side, Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chairman Charles Schumer (N.Y.) has lured Phil Singer away from the office of Minority Leader Harry Reid (Nev.) to serve as communications director at the committee, according to several informed sources.

Singer had served as Schumer’s communications director for four years before joining the rapid-response team for Sen. John Kerry’s (Mass.) presidential campaign. He joined Reid’s “war room” press shop in late 2004.

Julianna Smoot, the finance director for former Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle’s (D-S.D.) re-election effort, will serve in that same role for the DSCC this cycle.

J.B. Poersch, longtime chief of staff to Sen. Jack Reed (R.I.), was named the DSCC’s executive director in December.

Poersch’s counterpart at the National Republican Senatorial Committee is Mark Stephens, a longtime campaign aide for North Carolina Sen. Elizabeth Dole, the new NRSC chairwoman.

Blaise Hazelwood is the new campaign and media director at the NRSC. Hazelwood served as political director at the Republican National Committee in the 2002 cycle. In that position she headed up the “72 Hour Task Force,” the vaunted Republican turnout program.

Brian Nick, Dole’s current communications director in her Senate office, is moving to take over as press secretary at the committee.