Campaign Committees Staffing Up

Posted January 5, 2009 at 6:12pm

As the 2010 election cycle officially kicks off this week with the swearing-in of the new Congress, campaign committees on both sides of the Capitol are staffing up once again in preparation for a tough cycle.

Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Chris Van Hollen (Md.) is beginning his second term at the helm of the committee, but it’s still unclear whether Executive Director Brian Wolff, Political Director Brian Smoot or Communications Director Jennifer Crider will stay on — although most of them are expected to continue in their current roles.

Crider would not comment on committee staffing for the 2010 cycle.

“We focused on the new Members this week,” Crider said. “Once we get through that, we’ll turn to other announcements.”

Van Hollen announced Monday, however, that outgoing DCCC National Press Secretary Doug Thornell would serve as communications director for the Office of the Assistant to the Speaker, a new role that Van Hollen is set to assume. Thornell will also oversee local and national press outreach for Van Hollen’s district office, according to a press release.

Former Northeast Regional Press Secretary Carrie James has left the DCCC to join Dewey Square’s office in Boston. Southern Regional Press Secretary Kyra Jennings and Western Regional Press Secretary Yoni Cohen have also left the committee.

In the wake of losing dozens of House seats and at least seven Senate seats in the 2008 cycle, the Republican House and Senate campaign committees hired quickly last month under their new leadership.

The National Republican Congressional Committee, headed by incoming Chairman Pete Sessions (Texas), announced Sessions’ longtime chief of staff, Guy Harrison, will serve as NRCC executive director.

Johnny DeStefano, a top aide to House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio), will be deputy executive director. DeStefano will continue to work as Boehner’s political director in an effort to smooth tensions that developed last cycle between then-NRCC Chairman Tom Cole (Okla.) and House leadership.

Elizabeth Verrill, a former regional finance director for Sen. John McCain’s (R-Ariz.) presidential campaign, will serve as the finance director for the NRCC. The committee also announced in December that former National Republican Senatorial Committee PAC Director Jenny Sheffield, also a former Sessions aide, will be the deputy finance director. Mike Shields, formerly chief of staff to Rep. Dave Reichert (R-Wash.), will serve as director of special projects.

Sessions also retained a handful of key staffers from the 2008 cycle: Former Press Secretary Ken Spain will move up to become communications director, former National Field Director Brian O. Walsh will serve as political director and Bob Honold will manage incumbent retention for a second cycle.

NRSC Chairman John Cornyn (Texas) has also already put key staff in place, including bringing on Rob Jesmer as executive director and Dorinda Moss as finance director.

NRSC Communications Director Brian Walsh said more committee staffing announcements would be forthcoming.

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee under incoming Chairman Bob Menendez (N.J.) announced last month that they retained a couple of the committee’s top aides from their successful 2008 cycle. Executive Director J.B. Poersch has agreed to stay on in that job for a third cycle, while Martha McKenna will take a second run as political director and Matt McNally will continue to be research director.

Communications Director Matthew Miller is reportedly up for the top press job at the Justice Department, though Miller would not confirm or deny the report. Deputy Communications Director Hannah August left the DSCC in December.

Additionally, a successor to Finance Director Tom Lopach, who is leaving the DSCC, has yet to be announced.