The Skunk at the Garden Party

Posted September 5, 2007 at 6:24pm

Republican heavy hitters Lance Tarrance, Carlos Rodriguez and Chris Wilson have joined forces to form a new political polling and consulting firm, Rodriguez-Wilson-Tarrance Strategies. [IMGCAP(1)]

However, with the ink barely dry on the invitation to Wednesday night’s cocktail party celebrating the firm’s launch, respected GOP pollster Neil Newhouse of Public Opinion Strategies fired off an e-mail bashing one of RWT Strategies’ first hires, Republican pollster and former POS employee Tyler Harber.

In the e-mail, obtained by Roll Call on Wednesday, Newhouse accused Harber of exaggerating his résumé.

“In his recent promotional releases regarding his move and in recent e-mails that have been forwarded to us, Tyler considerably overstates his experience,” Newhouse wrote. “Imagine our surprise when Tyler claims credit for literally every single POS win in the 2006 election cycle, including Senate races, Governor’s races, Congressional races and down-ticket races in which Tyler had absolutely no involvement.”

“In fact,” Newhouse continued, “here’s how Tyler introduces himself: ‘Last cycle, my research team helped manage the research and strategy for four winning U.S. Senate races, six winning Republican Governors, 46 Members of Congress, as well as numerous down-ticket statewide and legislative winners.’”

“The truth,” Newhouse’s e-mail continued, is that “those victories required the hard work of six POS partners, four POS Vice-Presidents and roughly 25 other POS employees. Further, Tyler worked for POS for a little more than one year, and was neither the lead strategist nor the lead pollster on a single project.

“We’ve been in touch with Tyler and have given him the opportunity to correct the record and he has failed to do so.”

Harber, hired by RWT Strategies to serve as vice president and director of its political division, said in a telephone interview that he was familiar with Newhouse’s e-mail. He refuted his old boss’s claims, countering that Newhouse was making the accusations because he is bitter that the new firm is cutting into the bottom line at POS.

“It’s unfortunate that he feels the need to lash out at me,” Harber said. “Obviously he’s desperate, and I think he’s mad that we’re taking work away from him.”

Newhouse did not directly respond to Harber’s comments. But he told Roll Call via e-mail that for POS to publicly call out a former employee is an unusual and extraordinary step.

“It’s a first, and a well-deserved one,” Newhouse said.

Meanwhile, RWT also hired Byron Allen away from POS, appointing him to the position of vice president of methodology and advanced analytics.

First Place in the First State. Democratic strategist David Hamrick, who works for the stalwart Democratic consulting firm Hildebrand Tewes, has been retained by Delaware Lt. Gov. John Carney (D) to run his 2008 gubernatorial campaign.

Hamrick, who is based in Washington, D.C., is joined in his bid to get Carney elected by Democratic pollster Jefrey Pollock of Global Strategy Group. Pollock also polls for New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer (D), Iowa Gov. Chet Culver (D) and West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin (D).

Additionally, Carney hired Jennifer Hanson Mueller as a fundraising consultant. Hanson Mueller owns Benchmark Strategies and has been Sen. Tom Carper’s (D-Del.) fundraiser since 2000.

He’s No Schrimpf. The Republican Governors Association has hired Chris Schrimpf as its new communications director. Schrimpf comes to the RGA from Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue’s (R) office, where he served as deputy press secretary.

Stan the Man. Republican communications strategist Stan Devereux is merging his Sacramento, Calif.-based consulting firm with Pac/West Communications, the same company that employs former Rep. Richard Pombo (R-Calif.) and Steve Ding, Pombo’s former chief of staff.

Devereux previously worked for 2006 Congressional candidate Eric Roach (R), who ran in last year’s special election to replace ex-Rep. Duke Cunningham (R) in California’s 50th district. Devereux also worked for then-state Treasurer Matt Fong (R) in his losing 1998 bid to oust Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.).

Greenberg Dead Ahead! Illinois Congressional candidate Steve Greenberg (R), who hopes to oust Rep. Melissa Bean (D) in the marginally Republican-leaning 8th district, has hired a full slate of political consultants.

The Greenberg team includes campaign manager Brad Goodman, a former political aide for Rep. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) and a veteran of a half-dozen House and Senate races. In 2006, Goodman was political director for Congressional candidate Kathy Salvi (R) in the 8th district.

Also on the team is finance director Lori Montana, who has raised money for several Illinois GOP candidates, including former Gov. Jim Edgar. Montana also previously served as director of the Illinois lottery.

Dan Curry was hired as communications director. In the past he has served as communications director for then-Sen. Peter Fitzgerald (R-Ill.) and press secretary for former Illinois Attorney General Jim Ryan (R). Curry also is a former political and investigative reporter for the Daily Herald newspaper in suburban Chicago.

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