October 30, 2015

Dropout Watch: Bush Campaign Fires COO

  3:34 pm

As reported by the Wall Street Journal, the Bush campaign has fired their COO, Christine Ciccone.

After Jeb’s terrible, horrible, no good, very bad week, culminating in his on-stage seppuku during the debate, Bush’s donors were clamoring for a staff shakeup (much like Walker’s donors were prior to him dropping out). This appears to be the first of such changes the Bush campaign is making. Ciccone had a history of working for the Bush family, and had this to say over the phone to the WSJ as she left:

“I’ve got no comment. I’ve just got to go.”



September 22, 2015

Where Will the Walker Infrastructure Go?

  12:51 pm

Sometimes the biggest thing about a candidate dropping out isn’t their raw vote totals moving to another candidate. Obviously, in the case of Scott Walker, his supporters had already moved on before yesterday’s announcement. But Walker dropping out changed the overall topography of the race, and also left behind a lot of infrastructure — donors and staff — for other campaigns to fight over. So where will that money and talent end up?

So far, the answer is with Marco Rubio and, to a much lesser extent, Jeb Bush. Walker’s New Hampshire co-chair, Cliff Hurst, signed on with Team Rubio immediately after finding out Walker was bowing out. Additionally, five prominent Walker backers in Iowa, including three county chairs and the chair of Iowa Students for Walker, moved from Walker to Rubio yesterday as well. Finally, Drew Johnson, a well known South Carolina activist and Walker supporter, endorsed Rubio as well.

Meanwhile, former Wisconsin GOP Chair Richard Graber moved from Walker to Jeb Bush following the announcement.

There are many more talented staffers up for grabs, and we should continue seeing headlines about their decisions in the coming days. For instance, Walker had two other New Hampshire co-chairs, including one who played a prominent role in Romney’s and McCain’s victories there, so it will be interesting to see where they end up. Walker also had many more county chairs in Iowa, something that is a necessity given the organizational heft required to win the caucuses in the Hawkeye State.

But what about the donors? Clearly, Walker didn’t raise as much money as he had hoped to, but seeing who his donors move to will give us a glimpse into which way this campaign is heading.

Walker had three main donors to his Super PAC: the Ricketts, Diane Hendricks, and Stanley Hubbard. The Ricketts have already donated to Cruz, Christie, Bush, Rubio, and Graham, and say they will choose one to back with larger sums of money at some point in the future. Hendricks hasn’t said who she could support now. Hubbard, though, has said he will choose one of four candidates moving forward: Fiorina, Rubio, Christie, or Carson.

Austin Barbour, who led Rick Perry’s Super PAC and keeps his finger on the pulse of major donors, said from his conversations it sounds like Walker’s other donors will choose Bush, Rubio, Fiorina, or Christie. As for Rick Perry’s former donors? Barbour says they will divide between Bush, Rubio, and Fiorina.

While that sounds like a whole mess of candidates are in the running for Walker’s (and Perry’s) former donors, if we put it all together we can see some patterns emerging:

Ricketts Hubbard Walker Donors Perry Donors
Christie Christie Christie
Bush Bush Bush
Rubio Rubio Rubio Rubio
Fiorina Fiorina Fiorina

Obviously, Rubio stands to gain the most from the Walker/Perry exits, with Bush, Fiorina, and Christie all positioned to benefit as well. The names who are not on this list, though, is what is even more interesting: Paul, Huckabee, and Kasich come immediately to mind, as well as all of the zero-percenters like Jindal. And seeing Cruz and Carson only under consideration by one donor each is rather surprising as well.

Given the direction staffers and donations seem to be heading in the aftermath of Walker’s decision, it looks like the race – for now – is headed for that Sunshine State showdown we predicted six months ago, with Fiorina (and potentially Cruz and Christie?) playing a smaller role in the drama.

UPDATE: According to Politico, the Bush campaign has picked up two more Walker staffers from Iowa and a student leader from Georgia; Cruz has won three of Walker’s Iowa staffers, two from Nevada, and one from Georgia; and Christie has announced the support a former Walker Iowa backer.

UPDATE II: Governor Jindal has announced the support of one of Walker’s former Iowa County Chairs, Eric Kruse. Jindal-mentum?

So all total, so far, this is where Walker’s people have gone:

  • Rubio – 5 IA, 1 NH, 1 SC
  • Bush – 2 IA, 1 WI, 1 GA
  • Cruz – 3 IA, 2 NV, 1 GA
  • Christie – 1 IA
  • Jindal – 1 IA

More to come…


September 14, 2015

Lanhee Chen Signs on With Marco Rubio

  7:16 pm

The Washington Post has the scoop, including why this is a big “get” for the Rubio campaign:

Lanhee Chen, one of the Republican Party’s most sought-after policy experts, said Monday he has signed on to Marco Rubio’s presidential campaign and will counsel the Florida senator on issues foreign and domestic.

As policy director on Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign, Chen was the GOP’s nominee’s chief policy adviser and a senior strategist. Since then, Chen has informally advised many Republican presidential hopefuls and other politicians from his perch here at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution.

Chen, who first announced his role on Hugh Hewitt’s syndicated radio show on Monday, said in an interview with The Washington Post that he has decided to work exclusively with Rubio because of what he considers the senator’s unique combination of policy depth and political potential.

“I have been incredibly impressed with his grasp and command not just on domestic policy but also on foreign policy,” Chen said. “He is so well versed it’s staggering. His ability to go from foreign policy to healthcare to taxes to social policy — he’s just so fluid, and that to me was super impressive. He represents the future of conservative thinking.”


August 25, 2015

Perry’s Iowa Campaign Chair Quits

  2:00 pm

You wonder how long Rick Perry is going to hobble along before deciding to call it quits himself:

The chair of Rick Perry’s Iowa campaign, Sam Clovis, is calling it quits… The Perry campaign stopped paying staff earlier this month… The campaign’s money woes played a part in Clovis’ decision, he told the AP — though he said it was not the only reason for his departure.

Iowa is critical to Perry’s dwindling chances, and Clovis — a radio personality and failed 2014 Senate candidate — was considered central to his hopes there.

Clovis said he is in negotiations already to be hired by another campaign.


June 9, 2015

Bush Shakes Up Campaign Staff

  7:12 am

imgresAfter a 6-month exploratory phase has left Jeb Bush flush with cash but sinking in early state polls, the former Florida governor has reshuffled his political team just one week ahead of his official campaign launch.

Dave Kochel, the top Iowa operative successfully wooed away from Mitt Romney’s camp, moved to Miami to serve as campaign manager.  Instead, Danny Diaz, a hard-charging consultant, will take the job, hoping to refocus the flagging Bush effort to establish himself ahead of his rivals. Kochel was informed of the change just one week ago.

The campaign reshuffling comes amid reports that Bush, who long suggested he’d run a “joyful” campaign, is preparing a bare-knuckle negative campaign to tear down his chief rivals. Sally Bradshaw, Bush’s longtime adviser and former Chief-of-Staff, cited the gains of Gov. Scott Walker and Sen. Marco Rubio as particularly worrisome.

For their part, the Bush team has denied any internal strife, claiming Diaz and Kochel are both well suited to their respective roles. The campaign also claimed they’ve raised more than $100 million in the first 6 months, a figure they’ve shied away from but are now embracing amid reports of donor angst and staff struggles.

Still, Bush is facing a tougher race than he ever expected, and this last minute change signals both an awareness of the difficulty he faces and a struggle to find a path forward against a group of younger, more exciting opponents than confronted by establishment frontrunners of the past.


November 19, 2014

Some Cold, Hard Facts about the Campaign Calendar

  2:00 pm

It takes more than just name recognition to get nominated for the President of the United States. It requires much preparation and a lot of hard work mostly behind the scenes. That preparation must begin months before the first primaries and caucuses. If a candidate does not prepare, he will not make it to the finish line.

First he must build up an organization. The organization is the one responsible for getting the signatures necessary to get on the ballot of a state’s primary. No staff, no signatures. No signatures, no name in primary. It is as simple as that.

There must be staff at the national level and the state level. The Federal Government has its set of election rules to follow. Each state has theirs. The candidates must hire experts in both in order to not run afoul of the law.

The campaign staff sets up the speech venues for the candidate. They must be able to predict accurately the size of the crowd expected and match the venue to it. They want a full venue. They don’t want people getting turned away. Nor do they want empty seats. Those look terrible when published on the Internet.

At every level there are a few high-quality campaign operatives available. They are the ones with many years of experience in running campaigns either at the federal level or at the state and lower level. They know what has to be done, what pitfalls to avoid, what mistakes not to make, which buttons to push, which knob to twist. These experts go fast. “If you snooze, you lose”, is the rule here. Any candidate that gets in late has to be content with the left-overs. So not only are they starting behind the rest of the pack, they will be doing it with inferior staff.



July 20, 2012

Keep an Eye on Robyn Hamlin

  7:00 am

Of all the congressional races in the country this year, the one with the greatest potential for revolutionary change is that of Robyn Hamlin.

Robyn is a small business owner, small-government firebrand, and Republican candidate for US Congress in Missouri’s first district.  For nearly half a century, Missouri CD-1 has been represented by one family.  First Bill Clay, then his son William Lacy Clay.  This Democratic family dynasty has gone in lock step with increasing the national debt, instituting a government takeover of health care, and slashing civil liberties.  The local GOP establishment has provided no support to any of its congressional candidates, and many believe that it has actually made an under-the-table deal to keep the seat in Clay’s hands.

Robyn Hamlin was the party nominee in 2010 and garnered only 26% of the general election vote, but there has been a sea change in the district since then.

1). Because of the 2010 US census, Missouri lost a congressional district, and so CD-1 absorbed a lot of new voters from surrounding districts, which has caused Republican numbers in CD-1 to rise by a whopping 10% or so.

2). Because of redistricting, incumbent Congressman Russ Carnahan is challenging incumbent Congressman William Lacy Clay in the same primary, and it’s shaping up to be a bloodbath.  Whichever Democrat emerges will be badly bruised amongst his own party in the general election.

3). No Republican nominee in Missouri’s CD-1 has ever been able to receive any support or resources for the local GOP establishment, but this year, Robyn went over the local party’s heads and hired David Adams (campaign manager for Rand Paul’s 2010 Senate run) and Dave Nalle (strategy advisor to Ted Cruz for Senate 2012).  Together, they have put together a strong and serious campaign.

For the first time in half a century, conservatives have a chance to flip a long-standing blue district into the red column.  Consider sending $20 or $30 her way and contributing to what may be one of the biggest upsets of the season.

(In the interest of full disclosure, I am also proud to be consulting her campaign.)


April 5, 2012

Romney Names Ed Gillespie Senior Advisor

  9:00 am

From the official release:

The Romney for President campaign today announced that Ed Gillespie, the former Republican National Committee Chairman, will join the campaign in a voluntary role as a Senior Adviser.

“I am pleased that Ed is joining my team,” said Mitt Romney. “He brings a wealth of experience that will prove invaluable in the political battle that lies ahead. Barack Obama is building a $1 billion campaign war machine, and Ed will play an important role in countering it. He’ll help in bringing Republicans and all Americans together behind my campaign and in communicating our message that America can do better than the chronic high unemployment, slow economic growth, and bitter political divisions that are Barack Obama’s primary accomplishments.”

On joining the campaign as a Senior Adviser, Ed Gillespie said, “I’m excited to join Mitt Romney’s campaign team. His plan to reduce taxes, balance the federal budget, strengthen our national security and protect innocent human life stands in sharp contrast to the ruinous policies of President Obama. His record of strong leadership as governor and proven history of great accomplishment in both the public and private sectors show he has the ability to make the tough decisions needed to be a good president, which is sadly missing right now.”

Background On Ed Gillespie:

Ed Gillespie Is The Former Republican National Committee Chairman And A Former Counselor To President George W. Bush. For 25 years, Ed has worked to advance conservative principles and elect Republican leaders. He was a longtime top aide to former House Majority Leader Dick Armey and helped craft 1994’s “Contract with America.” He worked on President George W. Bush’s 2000 campaign and served as Chairman of the Republican National Committee in the 2004 presidential election cycle.

In 2007, he was named Counselor to the President of the United States.


February 2, 2012

The Power of Surrogates

  8:00 am

One of the most impressive things to witness in the 2012 Republican Primary for me has been to see the organization and collaboration of Mitt Romney’s campaign team. Where other candidates did their best to criss-cross the early states, attend fundraisers, cut advertisements, do TV appearances and radio interviews, hold conference calls, and do all the other things that are part of running for President largely on their own, Mitt Romney’s team was a political hydra. While Tim Pawlenty and Jason Chaffetz held a teleconference for reporters, Chris Christie was doing townhalls for supporters, Mitt was out giving speeches on the stump, and the Florida Congressional delegation was cutting ads for the campaign. It was a lesson not only in multi-tasking, but in the full utilization of all available resources – and Mitt schooled everyone at it.

This is one of the reasons I am confident that Mitt Romney, now our presumptive nominee, is by far the greatest candidate available to take on Barack Obama. For the general election, it is not going to be just Mitt Romney by himself out there taking on the Obama machine. Chris Christie, Tim Pawlenty, Bob McDonnell, Nikki Haley, Kelly Ayotte, John Sununu, and dozens more will be out campaigning for him as well. Defending him on morning news shows. Attacking Obama for him. Talking to their constituents on his behalf. Leading multi-pronged attacks.

Who does Obama have? Nancy Pelosi? Harry Reid? David Axelrod? Seriously? You think those folks are going to sway American opinion?

If you are looking for a reason why endorsements matter, just take a glance at how Romney has utilized his endorsers as surrogates this primary season. And then imagine him using them again as surrogates in the general election against Barack Obama. The Romney campaign’s ability to drive a very focused message across several fronts at the same time has been impressive to watch, and we will get more displays of Romney’s organizational prowess and competence come general election time. I can hardly wait.

Update: I’m not the only one taking note of Romney’s use of his supporters as surrogates: CNN Political Ticker has a story out about how Romney won the Florida primary, noting that “Romney’s campaign unleashed an army of surrogates” to campaign for him and take down Newt Gingrich. This is really fun to watch – unless, of course, you are on the receiving end of that army’s offensive.


October 25, 2011

Perry’s New Strategy: “Savage Assault” to “Totally Destroy Romney”

  11:50 am

Politico has an interesting piece up about Perry’s campaign relaunch, as he attempts to resurrect his chances in the primary race. The relaunch begins with the tax plan announcement today in South Carolina, and then moves to stage two: a blitzkrieg of negative advertisements, focused like a laser at Mitt Romney.

A negative ad campaign is the specialty of Rick Scott’s campaign team — which Rick Perry hired yesterday. And according to Republican operatives, this thing is going to get ugly:

“[T]hey believe that if they can kill Romney, no one else can get the nomination but Perry,” Castellanos said. “I expect that a few Perry positives will soon hit the TV airwaves, but they will just be cover for a brutal assault on Romney from the Perry campaign and his super PAC.”

He warned: “Perry won’t just go negative. He’ll make your television bleed and beg for mercy.”

One Republican operative familiar with the work of Perry’s new team expressed concern that the coming campaign could be so negative as to “jeopardize the general election.”

“They want to destroy Romney, and they don’t care if there is no GOP elephant left,” the operative said. “Total destroy mission. And Perry’s bought into it.”

Another Republican braced for a savage assault on Romney that could weaken the GOP for the fight against President Barack Obama: “If there’s no party left, there’s no party left, and that’s what Axelrod and Obama’s guys are hoping for.” (Emphasis mine.)

Rick Perry has $15 million to spend on this “savage assault”… and whether you’re a Romney fan or not, you’ve got to be concerned about Team Perry’s attitude. This does not bode well for the party after the primary is over.


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