Shop Talk: I Love New York

Posted August 5, 2009 at 5:29pm

Rep. Bruce Braley’s (D-Iowa) chief of staff, Sarah Benzing, is leaving Capitol Hill to manage Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand’s (D-N.Y.) campaign, according to a Democratic source. Gillibrand was appointed to the Senate earlier this year, and while it remains to be seen whether she will attract a top-tier GOP opponent, she will face at least one primary challenger when she runs for a full term in 2010.

[IMGCAP(1)]Benzing was the national field director for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee in the 2008 cycle. She ran Braley’s campaign in 2006, when he won his first term in Congress.

On Board A-Yotte. Veteran campaign manager Brooks Kochvar has been tapped to run former New Hampshire Attorney General Kelly Ayotte’s (R) Senate bid.

Kochvar most recently ran former Sen. Gordon Smith’s (R-Ore.) unsuccessful re-election campaign in 2008. He also served as then-Rep. Chris Chocola’s chief of staff and managed the Indiana Republican’s first successful campaign in 2002.

National Republicans recruited Ayotte to run for retiring Sen. Judd Gregg’s (R) seat. Although she is the only candidate in the race so far, she will likely have at least one primary challenger.

Additionally, Ayotte’s campaign announced that former Gov. Steve Merrill (R) will serve as chairman of her campaign committee.

Welch Juices Up. Businessman Steve Welch (R) has announced his campaign team for his bid to win Rep. Joe Sestak’s (D-Pa.) seat. Sestak announced this week that he will challenge Sen. Arlen Specter (D) in next year’s primary.

Welch has hired John Brabender of BrabenderCox to handle his media production, including paid advertising and message development.

Gene Ulm of Public Opinion Strategies, which has a long track record of work with Republicans in the Keystone State, will handle his polling.

Phil Musser of NetPower Strategy will handle will handle Welch’s new media strategy. Musser is a former senior adviser to Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign and has served as executive director of the Republican Governors Association.

The Loyola Followers. Businessman Ben Loyola (R) announced he has tapped two of House Minority Whip

Eric Cantor’s (R-Va.) old political hands to help guide his campaign against freshman Rep. Glenn Nye (D) in Virginia’s 2nd district.

Boyd Marcus and Ray Allen have worked with Cantor for several years, as well as other Virginia Republicans such as former Sen. George Allen, former Gov. Jim Gilmore and former Rep. Thelma Drake, whom Nye defeated last year.

The political mail firm Creative Direct is also on board with Loyola. Creative Direct has worked with several gubernatorial candidates in the state, as well as with Cantor and Reps. Frank Wolf (R) and Rob Wittman (R).

Additionally, Chris Woodfin and Aaron Gulbransen of ACT Consulting will be working with Loyola, according to the release.

Growing Green. Businessman Dick Green (R), who is expected to get into the race for Rep. Mark Kirk’s (R-Ill.) seat, has tapped Revolvis to handle his general consultant.

Jason Roe, who managed Rep. Peter Roskam’s (R-Ill.) successful first race in 2006, will take the lead for the firm on Green’s campaign.

Green is one of several Republicans expected to enter the race for the North Shore Chicago suburban seat. House Democrats will target the seat as well and already have two prominent local candidates in the race.

Family Maddens. Brenda Madden Kimberlin has officially joined the family business.

Kimberlin, the older sister of former Mitt Romney presidential campaign spokesman Kevin Madden, has been hired as the spokeswoman for businessman Ed Martin (R), who just announced he is exploring a bid against Rep. Russ Carnahan (D-Mo.).

Kimberlin is a former television reporter and public relations specialist in the St. Louis area.

Good Morgan. Axiom Strategies has added former Kansas GOP Executive Director Christian Morgan to its firm.

“I couldn’t be more excited to welcome Christian into the Axiom operation,— CEO Jeff Roe said.

Morgan served as assistant attorney general of Kansas before leaving that post to be campaign manager for state Sen. Jim Barnett’s (R) failed gubernatorial bid in 2006. He stepped down from his post at the Kansas GOP earlier this year after two years with the party.

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