The Oregon Trail

Posted April 23, 2008 at 6:28pm

Rep. Darlene Hooley’s (D-Ore.) unexpected decision to retire at the end of her current term has spawned two competitive primaries, providing consultants on both sides of the aisle a few extra clients — at least through the Beaver State’s May 20 primary.

[IMGCAP(1)]Until Hooley announced that she would retire, wealthy businessman and 2006 nominee Mike Erickson (R) had a clear path to his party’s nomination in the competitive 5th district, which stretches west from suburban Portland to the coast. But the seat’s open status prompted ex-state Republican Party chairman and former gubernatorial candidate Kevin Mannix to challenge Erickson for the GOP nod.

Erickson’s deep pockets are evident in his larger staff of well-known advisers.

Republican Cary Evans of the Mill Creek, Wash.-based firm West Meridian is acting as the general consultant. Mike McElwain of the Washington, D.C.-based GOP firm DMM Media is Erickson’s media consultant.

Bob Moore of the Portland-based Republican firm Moore Information is serving as the pollster, while Bruce Boram of Laurus Associates is Erickson’s fundraising consultant. Laurus is a GOP firm based in Seattle.

On the ground, Jeff Harvey is serving as campaign manager, Alicia Kephart is the field director and Katherine Corona is the finance director.

Harvey previously served on former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s (R) presidential campaign; Kephart spent last cycle on Rep. Dave Reichert’s (R-Wash.) campaign; Corona was an assistant finance director for former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney’s (R) failed presidential bid.

The Mannix team is a bit thinner than Erickson’s, although the size of his campaign does not necessarily correlate to electability.

Republican Jack Kane of the Lake Oswego, Ore.-based Creative Strategies is serving as Mannix’s strategic consultant. Chuck Adams of Adams and Company, a Republican firm based in Salem, Ore., is advising Mannix on media and direct mail.

Mark Nelson of First Opinion, a Republican polling firm in Salem, is Mannix’s pollster.

Amy Langdon, who served for five years as executive director of the Oregon Republican Party, is serving as Mannix’s campaign manager and is also handling the communications duties.

With Democrats now holding a majority of registered voters in Oregon’s 5th district and the Democratic Party as a whole on the upswing in the Beaver State, Hooley’s decision to vacate this

seat caused several Democrats to consider running. In the end, state Sen. Kurt Schrader chose to run, as did former gubernatorial aide Steve Marks.

Advising Schrader is Democratic pollster Bob Meadow of Washington, D.C.-based Lake Research Partners. Democratic consultant Dan Kully of the D.C.-based Laguens Kully Klose Partners, is Schrader’s media adviser. Mark Wiener of the Portland-based Democratic firm Winning Mark is acting as Schrader’s direct-mail consultant. Mandate Media, of Portland, is advising Schrader on Internet strategy.

On the ground, much of the work is being handled by campaign manager Paul Gage, who is on leave from his job at Ken Snyder Communications in Philadelphia. James Atkin is serving as Schrader’s political director, with Marie Hoeven working as finance director.

At present, Marks is running perhaps the leanest campaign.

Advising the ex-chief of staff to former Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber (D) is Joe Trippi. The well-known Democratic media consultant is based near Washington, D.C. Amy Simon of the San Francisco-based firm Goodwin Simon Victoria is Marks’ pollster.

Peter Clerkin, a veteran of Congressional races who has spent time as an operative in southern New Jersey, is the campaign manager. In the previous cycle, Clerkin worked for the Democratic nominee in Indiana’s 3rd district. Clerkin doubles as Marks’ communications director and oversees a few field and finance personnel.

LaRocco and Roll. Idaho Senate candidate Larry LaRocco (D) has beefed up his campaign staff, as he prepares for an uphill climb against the eventual Republican nominee, most likely Lt. Gov. Jim Risch.

Signing on as LaRocco’s communications director is ex-Lewiston Tribune political reporter Dean Ferguson. Ferguson had covered Idaho politics since 2004 and reported on the Gem State Congressional delegation.

Jeff David has been hired as LaRocco’s field organizer for northern Idaho. David graduated in December with a political science degree from the University of Idaho. Sonja Barber, a fine arts student at Boise State University, has joined the campaign as a fundraiser.

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