RNC Beefs Up Staff

Posted February 9, 2005 at 6:39pm

Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman has hired a baker’s dozen of top staffers.

Joining as regional political directors are: Randy Enwright, Florida; Cary Evans, Western states; Anne Hathaway, Great Lakes region; Randy Kammerdiener, Missouri and most of the Southeast; Jay McCleskey, Southwest; Graham Shafer, Northeast; and Karen Slifka, Midwest.

Enwright has held the RNC Florida post since 2001. He is a former executive director of the Florida and Iowa Republican parties.

Evans was a regional director for President Bush’s re-election campaign before joining the RNC. He has also worked in several capacities for Sen. Gordon Smith (Ore.).

Hathaway worked for former Vice President Dan Quayle and for Indiana House Republicans. Kammerdiener is a former executive director of the Kentucky GOP and a former political director for Missouri Republicans.

McCleskey has worked on several campaigns in New Mexico, most recently heading the RNC’s campaign there in 2004 and as executive director of the state GOP. He was also campaign manager for John Sanchez, the 2002 Republican nominee for governor.

Shafer was campaign manager to then-Rep. Van Hilleary’s unsuccessful run for Tennessee governor in 2002, and was New Hampshire state director for Steve Forbes’ presidential campaign in 2000.

Slifka, most recently, was Midwest regional political director for Bush’s re-election and has also served as a consultant to the Iowa GOP.

Raul Damas, who joined the RNC in 2003 as director of Hispanic Coalitions, will be the new coalitions director. He is the founder of a bilingual polling and communications strategy firm, Latino Opinions, based in Alexandria, Va.

Brian Donahue was named the 72-hour director. Most recently, he was executive director for Bush’s re-election campaign in West Virginia, and has also worked for Reps. Mike Ferguson (N.J.) and Steve Pearce (N.M.). He is the former vice president of Jamestown Associates, a political consulting firm.

Matt Rhoades joins the communications team as research director and deputy communications director, a job he held on the Bush campaign. He is a former RNC deputy research director and has also worked in the Bush White House.

Danny Diaz will be a deputy communications director who focuses on regional media outreach, and Tracey Schmitt has been hired as press secretary. Tara Wall has taken on expanded role; she will now serve as the director of outreach communications.

Diaz was a regional spokesman for the Bush re-election effort; Schmitt has done communications work for Bush both on the campaign and in the White House and most recently was press secretary for the 2005 Inaugural Committee. Wall joined the RNC last year after working for 13 years as a TV reporter in her home state of Michigan.

The Melting Pot. This may be an “only in New York” phenomenon. But according to this week’s Crain’s New York Business, three political consultants have set up a consulting firm focused on helping elect candidates in ethnic communities.

The new firm, Sage Consulting, is being set up by Richard Alleyne, Roma Valadere and John McLoughlin, a former reporter with The Wave newspaper in Far Rockaway, Queens.

In the 2004 Democratic primary, the three all helped a controversial former city councilman, Noach Dear, finish just 3 points behind an incumbent state Senator. Dear, a one-time Congressional contender who is an Orthodox Jew, ran a surprisingly strong race against a black incumbent in a majority-black district.

From Jam to Jail. Three GOP operatives face legal action for their role in a scheme to jam Democratic phone lines in New Hampshire on Election Day 2002; one has been sentenced to five months in jail.

Allen Raymond, who led Virginia-based GOP Marketplace before it went out of business, will pay a $15,600 fine and serve five months in the clink.

GOP Marketplace had hired Milo Enterprises, an Idaho-based firm, to make automatic hang-up calls, according to The Washington Post. The calls jammed phone lines that Democrats and a nonpartisan group of firefighters had established for get-out-the-vote efforts and to arrange rides for voters who could not get to the polls.

The former executive director of the New Hampshire Republican Party, Chuck McGee, resigned after the plot was revealed. He has pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges but has not been sentenced yet. Neither has Jim Tobin, who pleaded innocent to conspiracy and telephone harassment charges and awaits trial.

Tobin was New England regional chairman for the Bush-Cheney 2004 campaign until he resigned in October.

Key(es) to Success? The campaign managers for Alan Keyes’ (R) failed Illinois Senatorial bid have launched their own Chicago-based public affairs shop.

Urquhart Media is the brainchild of Bill Pascoe and Dan Proft, who ran the Keyes campaign, and Brian Timpone and Jeff Davis.

One firm speciality will be crisis communications, according to the Chicago Daily Southtown newspaper.

The firm’s Web site, www.urqmedia.com, will launch soon.

In addition to working on numerous New Jersey campaigns, including that of 2002 GOP Senate nominee Doug Forrester, Pascoe did a tour as the Republican National Committee spokesman.

Going Global. The lobbying shop of Dutko Worldwide is throwing a party Tuesday night at Mellon Auditorium to celebrate its global expansion.

The clever invitation, which looks like a passport, complete with stamps, is non-transferrable and all guests must RSVP.

The company now boasts offices in Brussels, seat of the European Union, Milan and Vienna.

The company was previously known as the Dutko Group and was founded by the late Dan Dutko in 1981.

Clinton Help. Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), girding for a tough re-election fight next year, has hired two former Clintonites to help out in her communications shop.

Karen Finney has signed on as Stabenow’s deputy chief of staff for communications, while Nanette Wilkin has been named deputy communications director, The Detroit News reported.

Finney was scheduler to former President Bill Clinton and press secretary for the 2000 campaign of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.). Last year she served Elizabeth Edwards, wife of vice presidential nominee John Edwards (N.C.), as her press secretary.

Wilkin was a speech writer in the Clinton administration and worked on rapid response for Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.).

Arnold’s Washington Muscle. David Wetmore has been tapped by California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) to head up the actor-turned-governor’s Washington, D.C., office.

Wetmore previously was the National Association of Insurance Commissioners’ government relations director.

Wetmore, who takes over Feb. 21, will also serve as an assistant to Schwarzenegger.

Two From Thompson. Two top campaign staffers to former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson (R) have signed on with the 2006 gubernatorial campaign of Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker (R), one of at least two Republicans expected to compete for the top job in the Dairy State.

Brian Tringali of the Tarrance Group will handle Walker’s research and polling operations, while Fred Luber was named finance chairman.

Walker was the first Republican to launch a 2006 gubernatorial campaign. Rep. Mark Green (R-Wis.) is also expected to run.

Gov. Jim Doyle (D) will seek a second term.