Lights, Camera, NRSC

Posted May 23, 2007 at 6:29pm

The National Republican Senatorial Committee, to increase its Internet presence and enhance its ability to go on the offensive, has established an online communications division complete with staff and in-house audio and video production facilities. [IMGCAP(1)]

Manning this division is ePress Secretary John Randall, who previously was director of radio and television outreach for the National Republican Congressional Committee. Serving as Randall’s deputy is Mike Stakias, who came to the NRSC from former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist’s (R-Tenn.) political action committee, VOLPAC.

Rounding out the online team, which reports to Communications Director Rebecca Fisher, is Web Site Manager Stan Olshefski and Internet Advertising Director Richard Sales. Olshefski worked in the previous cycle for then-Sen. Rick Santorum’s (R-Pa.) unsuccessful re-election campaign, while Sales is fresh out of college, graduating from Arizona State University last May.

Sales garnered attention in GOP circles in the previous cycle after doing some work for the Arizona Republican Party and Sen. Jon Kyl’s (R-Ariz.) winning re-election campaign.

Spurred by NRSC Chairman John Ensign (Nev.), the committee launched the online communications division in January.

As part of the effort, the research department was kicked out of the basement of the NRSC’s Capitol Hill headquarters to make room for the construction of an editing suite and audio and video production studios capable of producing television, radio and Internet ads.

New suites for fundraising calls also were included in the renovation.

“We’re definitely making a very aggressive play to dive headfirst into the online world,” Randall said. “We want to engage the right-wing blogosphere; we want to work with them and we want them to work with us.”

Randall’s job is to be the NRSC’s communications point man for bloggers — particularly the extensive right-of-center blogger community — and even some bloggers who report and write for mainstream media outlets.

The NRSC’s online communications division also oversees the committee’s Web site and its related features, which was revamped and relaunched this week. One of those features, the NRSC Wire, will on a regular basis automatically e-mail selected news stories and other updates to the committee’s online mailing list.

The online team also is responsible for maintaining the NRSC’s YouTube channel, which will be updated regularly with Internet video ads targeting Democrats generally and Democratic Senate candidates. Similar ads promoting Republican Senate candidates are slated to appear as well.

The NRSC also has put together an e-campaign booklet to advise incumbent and challenger campaigns on how to utilize the Internet to their advantage.

“A big thing we’re doing is education for our incumbent Senators and challengers — once they emerge,” Randall said.

Phil-ing the Bill. Albuquerque City Councilor Martin Heinrich, the first Democrat to enter the race against Rep. Heather Wilson (R-N.M.), has hired Philip Muller to be his campaign manager.

Muller has more than 20 years as a political operative under his belt, including working for candidates in recent New Mexico elections. In 2006, he managed direct mail for Jim Baca, the Democratic nominee for state land commissioner. In 2002, he was the campaign manager for Gloria Tristani (D), the former Federal Communications commissioner who was challenging Sen. Pete Domenici (R-N.M.).

Muller also worked on the 1992 campaign of former President Bill Clinton. His other clients have included former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown and former Minnesota state Sen. Ted Mondale (D), the son of former Vice President Walter Mondale.

Not Standing Pat. Pat Leopold is on his way to Topeka, Kan., to assume campaign manager duties for state Treasurer Lynn Jenkins (R), who is running against former Rep. Jim Ryun (R) in Kansas’ 2nd district GOP primary. The winner faces Rep. Nancy Boyda (D), who ousted Ryun in November.

Leopold, who worked in the research department in the previous cycle for the NRCC, will be squaring off against former NRCC colleague Kyle Robertson, who is Ryun’s campaign manager. In the previous cycle, Robertson served as a field director for the NRCC.

Leopold’s first day on the Jenkins campaign is June 4.

Off and Bruning? Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning (R) has retained Jordan McGrain to be his campaign manager, should he choose to run for Senate next year. Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.) has yet to reveal his 2008 plans, but Bruning is sounding more and more like he will run regardless of what the incumbent decides to do.

McGrain, formerly on the staff of Rep. Lee Terry (R-Neb.), has managed winning races for Omaha City Council and Nebraska Senate.

Schwing! The Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party has hired a new communications team, with Kelly Schwinghammer coming on as communications director and John Stiles assuming the associate communications director post.

Schwinghammer, whose first day on the job is set for June 4, is a recent veteran of the Service Employees International Union, while Stiles, who is scheduled to begin work on June 11, was recently an aide to a Ramsey County Commissioner in Minnesota.

Off the Mark. Lawrence Pacheco has left his post as press secretary to Rep. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) for the Washington, D.C., public relations firm Dittus Communications, where he is now serving as a senior director.

The Greeley, Colo., native bailed out of Udall’s office just as the Congressman’s 2008 Senate campaign is getting under way. Udall hopes to replace Sen. Wayne Allard (R-Colo.), who is retiring next year.

M + Roth. M+R Strategic Services has named Susan Roth senior vice president of its communications division.

Roth comes to the Washington firm after running her own shop, Roth PR.

Tom-Tom Club. Tom Staudter, who helped guide now-Rep. John Hall (D-N.Y.) to an upset victory in the Empire State’s 19th district last year, resigned this week as the Congressman’s press secretary to return to his Hudson Valley consulting business.

In an interview, Staudter said he never planned to stay on Hall’s Congressional payroll long and merely wanted “to make sure he was going to get on good footing.”

Staudter runs a media consulting and music management firm in Ossining, N.Y.

No Longer the Loneliest Number. ONE: The Campaign to Make Poverty History has added to its team, bringing on PJ McCann as vice president of development and finance, Lindsey Williams as director of major donors and partnerships and Sarah Young as assistant finance director.

McCann comes to ONE after running Sen. Russ Feingold’s (D-Wis.) finance operations for a dozen years. Williams joins the organization after serving in a key post for the Business Industry Political Action Committee. Young previously worked for the centrist Democratic Leadership Council.

Josh Kurtz contributed to this report.