Shop Talk: School of Hard Knoxville

Posted March 25, 2009 at 5:00pm

Tom Ingram, chief of staff for Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), will leave the Senate next month.

[IMGCAP(1)]Ingram’s first big venture, according to well-placed sources, will be to serve as general consultant to Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam (R) in his gubernatorial bid. Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen (D) is term-limited in 2010, leaving an open-seat contest for his successor, and Ingram is a veteran of the state’s political wars.

Go West, Young Matt. Matt McKenna, a spokesman for former President Bill Clinton, is leaving the Clinton Foundation for his home state of Montana. McKenna said he plans to start his own communications consulting firm, Jackson Creek, named for the road that he grew up on in Bozeman.

McKenna made a name for himself as Democrats’ chief mouthpiece in Montana. He was the communications director for Sen. Jon Tester’s victorious campaign and worked on Gov. Brian Schweitzer’s failed bid for Senate in 2000. He has also worked for the Montana Democratic Party.

McKenna was plucked out of Montana to work for now-Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s presidential campaign, eventually becoming the chief spokesman for former President Clinton last year as he zigzagged the country on his wife’s behalf.

McKenna said he plans to continue to advise the former president from the Big Sky State.

Natalie Attired. The Democratic National Committee continues to rebuild its media operation with Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine’s transition to chairman of the organization.

Natalie Wyeth is already in place at the DNC press shop, serving as the chief spokeswoman for the committee’s Organizing for America operation. Wyeth returns to Washington, D.C., after serving in several roles for the Democrats’ national campaign last year, including press secretary for the convention in Denver and deputy communications director for President Barack Obama’s campaign in Colorado.

Natalie Foster will be the director of new media at the DNC. Foster formerly worked as the director of online organizing at the Sierra Club.

Straight to Video. The Republican National Committee has announced that Todd Herman will serve as its new media director.

Based in Washington state, Herman most recently started his own Internet company, SpinSpotter, according to a release from the RNC. Before that, Herman worked at Microsoft Corp., where he was a streaming media evangelist at MSNBC.com and general manager at MSN.

RNC Chairman Michael Steele cleaned house when he took over the committee at the end of January and has begun to put his own people in place. Herman is the latest in a series of new hiring announcements. He will begin April 6.

Consultants Gone Wild. A former political consultant to several top New York Democrats, including Sen. Charles Schumer, was indicted on 123 counts last week.

According to the New York Times, Democratic operative Hank Morris was charged with bribery, grand larceny, money laundering and fraud from drawing more than $15 million in fees from companies tied to his chief client, former New York State Comptroller Alan Hevesi (D), who resigned in scandal in 2007.

Morris ran Schumer’s 1998 bid for Senate, and advised now-Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) in her failed gubernatorial bid in 1990, according to the Times.

The Limited, Taking Wing. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s online organization, No Limits, has tapped one of the former Senator’s ex-aides to run it.

Ann Lewis, a longtime Clinton consigliere, announced in an e-mail that Liz Wing will serve as No Limits’ executive director. Wing was on Clinton’s presidential campaign in Iowa, Nevada, California and several other states, and she worked on Rep. Mary Jo Kilroy’s (D-Ohio) first bid for Congress in 2006.

Love’s Labors Not Lost. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee announced that Reps. Betty Sutton (Ohio) and Phil Hare (Ill.) will co-chair the committee’s Labor Council.

Sutton and Hare represent districts with a large union presence and will be tasked with reaching out to labor leaders on behalf of House Democrats.

The DCCC also announced that Rep. George Miller (Calif.) will be an honorary co-chairman.

Calendar Boys and Girls. The Democratic National Committee has announced its commission to address the presidential nominating calendar — and a handful of political consultants made the cut.

The Democratic Change Commission is charged with improving the caucus system, reducing the number of superdelegates and altering the primary calender. The group will submit their report by January 2010. Tim Kaine, the DNC chairman, announced that Sen. Claire McCaskill (Mo.) and Rep. James Clyburn (S.C.) will co-chair the task force.

Political strategists Jeff Berman, Bill Carrick and Jeff Forbes will join McCaskill and Clyburn on the commission. What’s more, the master operative of them all — Obama’s 2008 campaign manager David Plouffe — will serve on the commission.

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