Shop Talk: Celinda the Insurgent?

Posted March 3, 2010 at 6:37pm

Although she’s worked for many Democratic incumbents in the past, pollster Celinda Lake has signed on to consult for several candidates this cycle either running against a sitting Senator or who are otherwise not favored by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

[IMGCAP(1)]Lake has signed on to the campaign of Arkansas Lt. Gov. Bill Halter (D), who this week announced he would challenge Sen. Blanche Lincoln in the Democratic primary. Halter also signed on Bud Jackson as his general consultant, Laguens Kully Klose Partners for media and WebStrong Group for Internet consulting.

Lake is also working on former Colorado Speaker Andrew Romanoff’s (D) primary bid against appointed Sen. Michael Bennet (D). Lake also counts Secretary of State Elaine Marshall (D) and Jennifer Brunner (D) as clients ‘ and both are running against the DSCC-favored candidates, former state Sen. Cal Cunningham and Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher, in North Carolina and Ohio, respectively.

When asked about working for so many outsider candidates this cycle, Lake touted the records of her clients and her own track record of working for candidates who defeated GOP incumbents such as former Sens. Ted Stevens (Alaska) and Conrad Burns (Mont.).

‘They are missing some terrific, outsider, principled candidates who may not be the best friends of the lobbyists in Washington but have strong records of delivering for the people in their states,’ Lake said. ‘These are also the type of outsider candidates who get things done and stand up for what’s right. That will appeal to voters this year especially.’

Lake reports she still does work for Sens. Mark Begich (D-Alaska) and Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), as well as a host of House Members, candidates and third-party organizations. According to her company’s Web site, Lake Research Partners has consulted for Lincoln and Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) in the past. Mikulski announced last week, however, that she had hired Fred Yang of Garin Hart Yang Research Group to do polling for her 2010 re-election bid.

Lake worked on Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley’s (D) failed special election Senate bid in January ‘ and subsequently got caught in the blame game crossfire between national Democrats and Coakley’s campaign.

LaCivita Hits the Beach. GOP operative Chris LaCivita has signed on to consult car dealership owner Scott

Rigell (R) in his bid against freshman Rep. Glenn Nye (D-Va.) in the Virginia Beach-based 2nd district.

LaCivita is a veteran of many successful campaigns for Virginia Republicans, including Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli and former Gov. and Sen. George Allen.

Rigell is one of several Republicans vying for the nomination, although he is the favorite of national Republicans.

What the Doctor Ordered. Surgeon Larry Bucshon, the leading Republican running in Indiana’s 8th district, announced he’s put together his campaign team. Bucshon was considered a long shot for the seat until last week, when Rep. Brad Ellsworth (D) decided to forgo re-election and run for retiring Sen. Evan Bayh’s (D) seat instead.

Bucshon announced he has hired Justin Groenert as his campaign manager. A longtime aide to former Rep. Ron Lewis (R-Ky.), Groenert managed his successful re-election bid in 2006.

Bucshon has also hired Kurt Luidhardt’s Prosper Group as his Web strategist, Erin Casey for national fundraising, Chris Faulkner of Faulkner Strategies for direct mail and political consulting, Patrick Lanne of Public Opinion Strategies for polling and Sonny Scott of Rising Tide Media for media efforts.

Blessed Are the Meekins. Republican strategist Chris Meekins announced he has left Jamestown and Associates to run former state GOP Chairwoman Robin Smith’s campaign in Tennessee’s 3rd district. Smith is running in the crowded open-seat primary in Rep. Zach Wamp’s (R) reliably Republican district.

Meekins is the first to say he loves working for candidates in GOP primaries, and he is known for running state Sen. Andy Harris’ (R) successful bid to defeat former Rep. Wayne Gilchrest (R-Md.) in the 2008 cycle. Harris, who is running again this cycle, lost to now-Rep. Frank Kratovil (D).

Keeping It All in the Family. Businessman Rich Ashooh, one of several Republicans vying to run against Rep. Carol Shea-Porter (D-N.H.), announced he has signed several operatives from the political and personal family of former Gov. John Sununu (R), now chairman of the New Hampshire GOP.

Profile Strategy Group was founded by Jamie Burnett, who was then-Sen. John Sununu’s (R-N.H.) 2008 deputy campaign manager and served as political director for former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney’s (R) presidential campaign in the Granite State earlier that year. The former Senator is the son of the current party chairman.

Two other sons of the senior Sununu, James and Michael, are also on board. Both are veterans of the business community in the Granite State.

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