Fools Russ In

Posted June 27, 2007 at 6:39pm

Businessman Russ Warner (D) announced this week his intention to challenge Rep. David Dreier (R-Calif.) in 2008, and already has a growing team of consultants. [IMGCAP(1)]

David Hamrick, of the Democratic firm Hildebrand Tewes, is Warner’s general consultant and hopes to lead the businessman to an upset victory over Dreier in the suburban Southern California 26th district.

Ben Tulchin, a vice president at Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research and director of the firm’s California office, has signed on as Warner’s pollster, with Jim Crounse, of Mack Crounse Group, serving as the direct-mail consultant.

Direct mail, Hamrick said, “will be important in this.”

Mike Rice, of Varoga & Rice, is handling opposition research. Rice formerly worked in research for the California Democratic Party.

Kristin Points is the campaign manager. A media consultant has yet to come on board, but Hamrick said that position should be filled sometime in July.

Warner sought the Democratic nomination to the 26nd district last year, but lost his bid to 2004 nominee Cynthia Matthews. Dreier cruised to a 14th term in November.

Yes, Virginia. Ed Gillespie may have stepped down from his post as Virginia GOP chairman to head over to the Bush White House, but the party’s plan to mobilize Capitol Hill staffers to aid the Republican effort in this fall’s state legislative contests is marching on.

Last week more than 110 Congressional aides showed up for the project’s kick-off event at the Capitol Hill Club. Sponsors of the event included Virginia GOP Reps. Tom Davis, Thelma Drake, Virgil Goode and Bob Goodlatte.

More than 200 GOP aides have signed up for the project so far. The group will participate in a training program at Republican National Committee headquarters on July 11.

All of the seats in the Virginia Senate and House of Delegates are up for re-election in November, and Democrats have a shot at tying or taking control of the state Senate. Democratic-trending territory in Northern Virginia is expected to be a key battleground.

Gillespie, a prominent Washington, D.C., lobbyist and ex-RNC chairman, stepped down from his Virginia GOP post earlier this month to become a counselor to President Bush.

State party Executive Director Charlie Judd and former Lt. Gov. John Hager are the leading candidates to replace Gillespie as chairman.

Top Billings. John Billings has been hired to serve as executive director of the Republican Main Street Partnership, a group of centrist Republicans that often acts as a counterpoint to the more conservative Club for Growth.

Billings comes to the RMSP from the office of Rep. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) for whom he served as policy director. Billings worked in a similar position under then-Rep. Charles Bass (R-N.H.), who is now president and CEO of the RMSP.

Rehberg’s Reinforcements. Erik Iverson, chief of staff to Rep. Denny Rehberg (R-Mont.), has been elected chairman of the Montana Republican Party.

The 33-year-old political operative pledged to a gathering of state GOP delegates that Republicans would make legislative gains in 2008, recapturing control of the Montana Senate among them.

Iverson was elected without opposition to replace former Lt. Gov. Karl Ohs (R). Rancher Liane Johnson was elected the party’s new vice chairwoman.

On Wisconsin. The Mellman Group, a D.C.-based Democratic polling firm, is opening an office in Madison, Wis.

The firm has worked for Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle (D) and conducted research on behalf of an independent expenditure group that supported now-Rep. Steve Kagen (D-Wis.) in the 2006 elections.

Lauren W. Whittington contributed to this report.