Shop Talk: The Specter Split

Posted April 29, 2009 at 6:10pm

Correction Appended

Several of Sen. Arlen Specter’s (Pa.) consultants have jumped ship in the wake of the former Republican’s move to the other side of the aisle this week.

[IMGCAP(1)]Finance Director Louisa Boyd is stepping down from the campaign because of Specter’s switch to the Democratic Party.

“As I plan to continue my career as a Republican fundraiser, it is not part of my business plan to work for a Democratic candidate,— Boyd wrote in an e-mail to colleagues. “I wish Senator Specter all the best, and will continue to hold him in the absolute highest regard.—

Specter’s longtime pollster, Glen Bolger of Public Opinion Strategies, confirmed he has resigned from Specter’s team.

Chris Mottola, Specter’s media consultant, declined to comment when asked whether he was staying with the campaign.

“I don’t talk about anything with the Senator,— Mottola said.

Specter’s national finance chairman, Wayne Berman, is not staying, but longtime campaign manager Christopher Nichols will remain.

Meanwhile, even before Specter’s big announcement, former Rep. Pat Toomey’s campaign staff was taking shape. Toomey was headed for a primary showdown with Specter but is now considered the leading Republican in the Senate race.

He has plucked his former mouthpiece at the Club for Growth to be his campaign communications director: Nachama Soloveichik’s last day at the Club was Wednesday.

But Soloveichik is not the only Toomey staffer with a track record with the club. Mark Harris will manage the day-to-day operation of Toomey’s campaign. Harris managed the campaign of a Club-backed candidate, businessman Chris Hackett (R), in his unsuccessful bid against Rep. Christopher Carney’s (D-Pa.) in 2008.

John Lerner — Red Sea firm founder and a frequent consultant for many candidates that the Club supports — will be Toomey’s general consultant.

Toomey has also picked an alumni of his 2004 campaign, Tim Kelly, to be his campaign spokesman.

Roving Strategist. Karl Rove, the former chief strategist to President George W. Bush, has taken another dive into Texas politics, acting as a top adviser to Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison’s (R) gubernatorial campaign.

Rove, who helped engineer Bush’s gubernatorial victories in Texas in the 1990s and was additionally pre-eminent in guiding the GOP to its majority status in the Lone Star State, was already known to be acting as an informal adviser to Hutchison. But according to multiple Republican sources with Texas ties, Rove’s role is much more extensive than was previously thought.

Hutchison’s campaign denied that Rove is involved in the campaign, with spokesman Rick Wiley conceding only that the Senator and the former White House strategist are “good friends.—

Rove “has no role in the campaign itself,— Wiley said late Wednesday.

However, one source said this week that — short of getting involved in day-to-day management — Rove has been involved in all of the campaign’s big decisions, including all strategic messaging and planning, as well as weighing in on major staff hires. A second source said Rove participates in semi-regular conference calls with the most senior campaign staff.

“There isn’t a big decision within the Hutchison operation that Rove hasn’t weighed in on,— according to one of the sources.

Rove has ties to Hutchison’s chief consultant, Todd Olsen, having sold his Austin-based consulting business to Olsen when he moved to Washington, D.C., with Bush.

It’s appearing more and more likely that Hutchison will face Gov. Rick Perry in the March 2010 GOP gubernatorial primary. Ironically, it was Rove who plucked Perry from obscurity back in the 1990s, recruiting the then-state Representative to run for Texas agriculture commissioner.

Power Surge. Republican Strategist Phil Musser has opened NetPower Strategy, a firm dedicated to helping GOP clients with new media strategy.

Musser and Justin Sayfie will serve as principals for the new firm.

Musser is a former executive director of the Republican Governors Association and currently runs New Frontier Strategy, which specializes in political and corporate communications consulting. In addition to running Sayfie Media, Sayfie publishes the “Sayfie Review— — an online publications on Florida politics.

Max Everett will serve as chief technology officer for the new firm, following up on his work as chief information officer of the 2004 and 2008 Republican National Conventions and at the White House during the Bush administration.

Megan Fitzpatrick and Jordan Raynor will be associates at the new firm.

Whistle a Happy Thune. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) has added two more aides to his campaign staff as he prepares for 2010.

Chris Adkins will serve as Thune’s e-campaign director. Adkins recently held a similar roll for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-Ky.) 2008 re-election campaign.

South Dakota native Angel Paulson will be Thune’s finance director. Paulson worked with Thune on his 2002 campaign and was a finance director at the Republican National Convention in 2008.

Also in preparation for his 2010 election, Thune launched a campaign Web site and has opened its headquarters in Sioux Falls, S.D.

Latoff Lifts Off. Former Republican National Committee spokeswoman Blair Latoff has landed at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, where she will work as manager of communications.

Latoff handled RNC press relations in the Northeast as a regional press secretary. The West Chester, Pa., native also served as press secretary for the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Dover and Out. Meghan Gaffney has joined the Dover Group as director of political operations, opening the growing firm’s new office in Washington, D.C.

Gaffney served as a regional fundraiser for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in the 2006 cycle and managed Majority Action, a Senate issues advocacy organization. She will oversee Dover Group’s new D.C. office, where she will manage fundraising and political operations for incumbent clients.

The Winner’s Circle. Newly elected Rep. Scott Murphy (D-N.Y.) was not the only winner in the upstate New York special election last month. Murphy’s consulting team also did a victory lap in wake of its win over state Assemblyman Jim Tedisco (R).

Mission Control Inc. consulted on Murphy’s mail, while Steve Murphy (no relation) and Mark Putnam of Murphy Putnam Media did the campaign’s media. Jef Pollock and Scott Elder of Global Strategy Group did polling for Murphy’s campaign.

Adam Sullivan ran Murphy’s campaign, following up on his successful campaign for the district’s former occupant, now-Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D), in 2008. Murphy’s spokesman, Ryan Rudominer, has returned to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, where he will be national press secretary for the rest of the cycle.

John Lapp and Jason Ralston of Ralston Lapp Media did the TV spots for the DCCC’s independent expenditure arm in the race, while Pete Brodnitz worked on the polling for the IE.

In Defending Sarah We Trust. Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R) announced that her political action committee, SarahPAC, has set up a legal defense fund.

“As you may know, Governor Palin has been facing continuous frivolous and petty attacks from her opponents,— read an e-mail from SarahPAC. “These baseless attacks have led to more than half million dollars in legal debt for the Governor and her family.—

The “Alaska Trust Fund— will accept donations under trustee Kristan Cole, per the fund’s new Web site.

In related news, the Washington Post reported that fundraising firm Campaign Solutions has severed ties with SarahPAC. The PAC’s current spokeswoman team, Pam Pryor in Washington, D.C., and Meg Stapleton in Alaska, will reportedly stay on board.

Burner, Baby, Burner. Two-time Washington state Congressional candidate Darcy Burner (D) has landed at the American Progressive Caucus Policy Foundation, where she will serve as executive director.

Burner unsuccessfully ran against Rep. Dave Reichert (R-Wash.) in 2006 and 2008, losing both times by small margins.

Correction: May 1, 2009

The article incorrectly stated that Sen. Arlen Specter’s (Pa.) national finance chairman, Wayne Berman, was staying with the Republican-turned-Democrat’s re-election campaign. He is no longer serving as chairman.

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