GOP Rep. Marlin Stutzman, who is vacating his House seat to run in Indiana's open Senate contest , has hired an experienced senior campaign team to help his bid, according to a release provided first to CQ Roll Call.
Democrats, who will attempt to pick up the seat in 2016, are hoping to paint Stutzman as the type of fringe, tea party candidate that has caused the GOP troubles in cycles past. But Stutzman's senior leadership lineup includes former top aides at the National Republican Senatorial Committee and National Republican Congressional Committee, as well as GOP consultants well-respected on Capitol Hill — a move that signals is willing to shed that image.
Included in Stutzman's senior leadership lineup are Rob Jesmer , a former executive director of the NRSC, and Terry Nelson, a former NRSC senior aide, who will serve as Stutzman's media consultants. Both are partners at FP1, a top GOP ad firm that has worked for numerous successful GOP candidates, including now-Sen. Dan Sullivan's winning bid in Alaska in 2014.
Managing Stutzman's campaign is Brendon DelToro, who served as chief of staff to fellow Indiana GOP Rep. Jackie Walorski.
Brooks Kochvar of GS Strategy Group will join the team as Stutzman's general consultant. Kochvar worked on Sen. Kelly Ayotte's successful 2010 Senate bid in New Hampshire, and counts Walorski and Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, among his other clients.
Wesley Donehue and Joel Sawyer of Push Digital will run the digital side of Stutzman's campaign. The firm counts GOP Sens. Tom Cotton of Arkansas and David Perdue of Georgia among its clients.
Leading Stutzman's mail effort is Brandon Waters of Arena Communications. A former regional political director of the NRCC, Waters' firm also worked on the campaigns of Indiana Gov. Mike Pence and Sen. Dan Coats — whose retirement led to the open Senate seat.
Stutzman, who announced his bid earlier this month, is one of two Republicans currently in the contest. Eric Holcomb, Coats' former chief of staff, announced a bid shortly after Coats' retirement announcement.
GOP Rep. Todd Young is also actively mulling a bid.
On the Democratic side, former Rep. Baron Hill announced a bid last week .
But Democrats are also working on convincing former Sen. Evan Bayh to wage a comeback bid. The former Democratic senator retired in 2010, citing frustration with congressional gridlock, and has more than $10 million in a campaign account.
Indiana's Senate race is rated a Republican Favored contest by the Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report/Roll Call.
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