Shop Talk: The Winning Steele-ers

Posted February 4, 2009 at 4:45pm

Newly minted Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele is not the only person who won big at last week’s winter meeting. Steele was aided by a relatively large team of GOP consultants who helped him win the favor of the 168 voting RNC members.

[IMGCAP(1)]Steele becomes the first black RNC chairman in the history of the party. Working closely with Steele could be a boon for any of the players involved with his bid, as the RNC doles out millions in consultant contracts each cycle.

“Most people believed that a lot of consultants jumped on the Steele bandwagon so that they could get the inside track for RNC work,” one GOP consultant said.

According to several Republican operatives familiar with Steele’s cadre, the following GOP consultants worked for the former Maryland lieutenant governor on his bid:

• Curt Anderson, Wes Anderson and Brad Todd are partners at OnMessage Inc., an advertising firm that produced media for Steele’s failed 2006 Senate bid.

• Blaise Hazelwood served as RNC political director in the 2002 and 2004 cycles and as campaign and media director for the National Republican Senatorial Committee in the 2006 cycle. She formerly was a partner at Anderson’s consulting firm.

• Anthony Marsh focused on strategy and communications. Marsh is chairman of the firm Marsh Copsey and Associates, where fellow Steele consultant Lance Copsey is the director of international affairs.

• Kevin Igoe is a former executive director of the Maryland Republican Party but now runs Igoe Associates consulting shop.

• David Avella served as GOPAC’s executive director when Steele was chairman and is also a partner at the Republican consulting firm Donatelli Avella.

• Zachary Condry served as campaign manager for businessman Keith Fimian’s (R) and radio host Jennifer Horn’s (R) failed 2008 bids for Congress in Virginia and New Hampshire, respectively.

Reed It and Weep. Republican media consultant Rick Reed is starting his own firm, Rick Reed Media Inc. The new operation will do not only political work, but also issue advocacy campaigns.

Reed comes from the firm Stevens, Reed, Curcio and Potholm, where he was a longtime partner. According to a release from the new firm, Reed will continue to work with his former partners on some projects.

Reed has worked on the campaigns of former Sen. John Warner (R-Va.), Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), former Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.) and the Republican National Committee.

Steering Portman. Former Rep. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) has tapped Bob Paduchik to be his campaign manager in the race for retiring Sen. George Voinovich’s (R) seat.

Paduchik is best known for his work as campaign manager for President George W. Bush’s Ohio victory in 2004 — a feat that many credit with delivering the race for the Republican because of increased turnout in Portman’s home base of Southern Ohio. Paduchik currently works for DCI Group in Washington, D.C.

Seeing Double. Recently appointed Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-N.Y.) may have more in common than previously thought. McCarthy has said she plans to challenge Gillibrand in the 2010 primary because of the Senator’s support for gun rights.

But if McCarthy goes through with her primary bid as planned, Empire State voters won’t be the only ones choosing sides: The two female lawmakers have shared several consulting firms for their respective House campaigns.

Both Gillibrand and McCarthy use Dixon/Davis for media, Global Strategies Group for their polling and Media Strategies or their media buys. Dixon/Davis media group declined to comment on the issue, and messages left with representatives from the other two firms were not returned.

Team Tedisco. New York state Assembly Minority Leader James Tedisco, the Republican nominee in the special House election to replace now-Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D), has begun to put together his campaign team.

Handling his polling will be Patrick Lanne, the upstate New York-based partner in Public Opinion Strategies. Ed Traz of the New Jersey-based Traz Group will be the direct-mail consultant.

Two veterans of Tedisco’s Assembly office are heading his campaign. Brian Nevin, the director of operations in the Minority Leader’s office, will be the campaign manager. He previously worked as executive director of the Republican Assembly Campaign Committee in Albany. Joshua Fitzpatrick, the communications director in the leader’s office, will handle the same duties for the campaign.

Tedisco is squaring off against venture capitalist Scott Murphy (D), although a special election date has yet to be set.

Big Apple Business. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg (I) continues to sign up top Democratic strategists in his bid for a third term this year — including two who have previously worked for the leading Democratic mayoral candidates.

According to the New York Daily News, Bloomberg this week hired Andrea Batista Schlesinger, who was a longtime lieutenant to his 2005 opponent, former Bronx Borough President Fernando Ferrer (D), to serve as a policy adviser. Batista Schlesinger is currently executive director of the Drum Major Institute, a liberal think tank in New York that Ferrer once ran.

Days earlier, Bloomberg hired veteran Democratic operatives Hank Sheinkopf and Basil Smikle Jr. Sheinkopf’s many clients have included New York City Comptroller William Thompson, who is vying with Rep. Anthony Weiner for the Democratic mayoral nomination. Smikle has worked for Weiner in the past.

Bloomberg’s campaign manager is Bradley Tusk, whose last gig in politics was serving as deputy governor to now-impeached Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D) from 2003 to 2006. More recently, Tusk, who was a special assistant to Bloomberg during his first year as mayor, has worked for Lehman Brothers.

Just this week, Thompson hired Eduardo Castell to be his campaign manager. Castell, who has served as deputy comptroller to Thompson and was campaign manager for Thompson’s first citywide bid in 2001, has also worked for Rep. Nydia Velázquez (D-N.Y.) and the late-Rep. Ted Weiss (D-N.Y.).

Family Matters. Twin brothers Doug and Dennis Bailey are joining forces by combining their previously separate firms. Dennis Bailey’s Savvy Inc., a Maine-based public relations and communications firm, is merging with Doug Bailey’s Boston-based public relations firm DBMediaStrategies Inc.

“Although it serves many business clients, Savvy is best known for its political campaign consulting and management,” Dennis Bailey said in a statement. “DBMediaStrategies is best known for its work with corporate clients, sports teams and the health care industry. It makes sense to merge our firms as a strategy for growth, and offer clients across New England a greater range of services and expertise.”

The brothers are natives of Maine and veterans of several New England newspapers. Dennis Bailey also served as press secretary for former Rep. Tom Andrews (D-Maine) and communications director for former Gov. Angus King (I).

Senate Shops Sign Up. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has selected Eric Schultz as its new communications director. Schultz succeeds Matthew Miller, who left the DSCC for the top press job at the Department of Justice.

A native of Syracuse, N.Y., Schultz has worked for former DSCC Chairman Charles Schumer (N.Y.) on Capitol Hill, served as a national press secretary for former Sen. John Edwards’ (D-N.C.) 2008 presidential primary campaign and finished off the 2008 cycle flacking for Senate hopeful Al Franken’s (D) campaign.

Meanwhile, the National Republican Senatorial Committee also announced a few additional staff hires.

Amber Wilkerson, former deputy press secretary for the Republican National Committee, will serve as national press secretary for the NRSC.

The NRSC also tapped Victoria Newton to be its research director. Newton most recently worked for media and communications firm BrabenderCox Inc. and served as deputy research director for the RNC in the 2006 cycle.

Colin Reed, who worked on rapid response in the presidential campaigns of former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R) and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), will be deputy press secretary. An alumni of the 2008 RNC Internet shop, Eric Sherred will be the NRSC’s Internet director.

Josh Kurtz contributed to this report.

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