Talent and Organization - 2012 Primary Campaigns

Former Gov. Mitt Romney ran a very different, leaner campaign than his 2007-08 effort and emerged from the field of Republican hopefuls as his party's nominee.  While the GOP candidates were engaged in their primary contests, President Obama's re-election team focused on building an huge organization on the ground.

...General Election page

Bachmann Cain Gingrich Huntsman Johnson (R) Karger
McCotter Paul Pawlenty Perry Roemer
Romney Santorum

Organization in early primaries/caucuses

(in order ended campaign):

Fred Karger 

[campaign focused on NH, MI, PR, CA and UT; ended campaign June 29, 2012] Karger himself is campaign manager.  Kevin Miniter, a 2005 Georgetown University graduate (interdisciplinary studies), was the first staffer starting in 2010, as Karger's traveling aide; he moved to New Hampshire in early July 2011 and continues as Karger's key operative.  Rina Shah started March 1, 2011 as communications director; she most recently worked for a couple of years on Capitol Hill as a schedule coordinator and has also worked in TV news and as a freelance writer.  Brian Wilson, based in L.A., is CFO.  Nathan Treloar served as Iowa state director from Nov. 2010 (announced Nov. 22) through June 2011.

Buddy Roemer

[announced Feb. 23, 2012 running as Independent; ended campaign May 31, 2012] Carlos Sierra started as campaign manager on July 11, 2011.  He came to the campaign from his position as community outreach liaison for Sen. John McCain.  He has worked for McCain since his University days, including on all of McCain’s national and statewide campaigns over the last eleven years; he was the Southwest coalitions director for McCain-Palin.  Roemer focused much of his attention on New Hampshire, where Chris Buck was his top person.

Newt Gingrich

[May 2, 2012] The campaign went through a number of iterations.  It appeared to be all but over in June; it suffered the mass resignation of more than a dozen senior staff and consultants on June 9, 2011.  On June 21 the finance team quit.  However, a series of strong debate performances kept Gingrich's candidacy alive.  It underwent rapid growth starting in Nov. 2011, building out organizations in the key early states.   Michael Krull served as the campaign manager; he previously was national director of American Solutions.  Joe DeSantis is communications director and Amy Pass is finance coordinator.  At the end of March 2012, however, the campaign underwent a significant downsizing, laying off a third of full-time staff.  Vince Haley assumed the role of campaign manager.

Rick Santorum

[suspended campaign April 10, 2012] Among the key players on former Sen. Santorum's team are campaign manager Mike Biundo, who originally signed up during the PAC phase as NH director and then served as national political director, senior advisor and media consultant John Brabender, who has served as media consultant for Santorum since his first race for Congress in 1990, national communications director Hogan Gidley, brought on in the latter part of July, senior communications advisor and spokeswoman Virginia Davis, and director of policy and speechwriting Seth LiebsohnAmanda Kornegay is finance director.

Rick Perry

[suspended campaign Jan. 19, 2012] Key players on Gov. Rick Perry"s team are senior advisors Tony Fabrizio, Fred Maas and Joe Allbaugh, announced Oct. 24, 2011, and campaign manager Rob Johnson, consultant David Carney, political director Wayne Hamilton,  communications director Ray Sullivan, policy and strategy director Deirdre Delisi and director of finance Margaret Lauderback.

Jon Huntsman 

[suspended campaign Jan. 16, 2012] The campaign which had been headquartered in Orlando, FL, moved its headquarters to New Hampshire from the beginning of October 2011 and focused almost all of its efforts there.  Huntsman finished his service as ambassador at the end of April 2011 and formally announced on June 21.  A campaign team in waiting had been put together throughout the first part of the year at Horizon PAC (H-PAC), however the organization has since undergone a significant anount of change.  John Weaver, veteran of both of Sen. John McCain's presidential campaigns as well as Sen. Phil Gramm's 1995-96 presidential effort, remains as senior advisor.  Iniitial campaign manager Susie Wiles resigned effective July 21, and communications director Matt David moved up to campaign manager.  In late August media strategist Fred Davis of Strategic Perception, Inc. left to work on the Our Destiny PAC.  Whit Ayers is pollster.  The campaign skipped Iowa.

Michele Bachmann 

[suspended campaign Jan. 4, 2012] Key people on Rep. Michele Bachmann's team are first her husband Marcus Bachmann, whom she met when they were working on the Jimmy Carter campaign.  Keith Nahigian took over as campaign manager in early Sept. 2011 after initial campaign manager Ed Rollins stepped aside, as did CEO and deputy campaign manager David Polyansky.  In addition to Nahigian, other key people on Bachmann's team are press secretary/spokeswoman Alice Stewart, and senior advisors Brett O'DonnellBob Heckman and Becki DonatelliJody Thomas and Mary Heitman are the finance directors.  The campaign is focusing most of its efforts on Iowa, where Eric Woolson is campaign manager.  Pollster Ed Goeas was a prominent figure in the first part of the campaign but left after the NV debate.  Several people came over from the congressional office to work on the campaign, but have since returned to the Hill.

Gary Johnson (R)

[announced Dec. 28, 2011 seeking Libertarian nomination] Former Gov. Gary Johnson's top political advisor is Salt Lake City-based Ron Neilsen, who directed Johnson's 501(c)(4) OUR America Initiative and who ran Johnson's first campaign for governor.

Herman Cain 

[suspended campaign Dec. 3, 2011] Mark Block, who had been state director of the Wisconsin chapter of Americans for Prosperity since 2005, is chief of staffLinda J. Hansen is executive vice president/deputy chief of staff.  Jamie Brazil is vice president of national field and political operations.  J.D. Gordon assumed a key role as vice president of campaign communications and foreign policy and security advisor starting Sept. 1, 2011.  The campaign underwent rapid growth following Cain's win in the Presidency 5 straw poll in Orlando, FL, but allegations of sexual harrassment followed by reports of an affair led Cain to announce suspension of the campaign effort on Dec. 4, 2011.

Thad McCotter

[ended campaign Sept. 22, 2011] Martin Van Valkenburg is senior advisor/Michigan director.  He is a senior lobbyist with Capitol Affairs, L.L.C., a Michigan-based, multi-client government relations consulting firm.

Tim Pawlenty 

[ended campaign Aug. 14, 2011] Nick Ayers, considered one of the top Republican operatives in the country, has served as Pawlenty's campaign manager effective April 25, 2011 (announced April 11).  In the pre-campaign period then-Gov. Tim Pawlenty had top notch operatives Phil Musser, Terry Nelson and Sarah Taylor as senior advisors to his Freedom First PAC starting in Oct. 2009.  Musser and Taylor have been most visible in the first months of the campaign.  Jon Seaton is political director.  The communications team is headed by communications director AnnMarie Hauser and national press secretary Alex Conant Brian Haley heads the finance team (announced by the exploratory committee on March 28).  The Pawlenty campaign was the most aggressive in putting staff on the ground in the key states of Iowa and New Hampshire.

former exploratory candidate:

Roy Moore

Zachery Michael served as senior advisor until his resignation (+) on June 14, 2011.  (On July 19 he announced he is supporting Rep. Bachmann).

former possible candidates:

Sarah Palin 

Media accounts describe former Gov. Sarah Palin's Sarah PAC as operating with something of an "ad hoc" approach with little emphasis on hierarchy and titles.  Among those in the inner circle are, first, husband Todd Palin and then Andrew Davis, Rebecca Mansour, Timothy Crawford and attorney Thomas Van Flein

Mitch Daniels

(ruled out May 22, 2011) Daniels did almost no activity related to a presidential campaign.  Eric Holcomb, elected as chairman of the Indiana Republican Party in January 2011, was a key figure in Daniels' political circle.  He previously served as deputy chief of staff in Daniels office and was a key member of Daniels’ 2004 and 2008 campaigns, serving as campaign manager in 2008.  He also managed campaigns for former Rep. John N. Hostettler and former Vincennes Mayor Terry Mooney.  Holcomb served in the U.S. Navy and is a graduate of Hanover College.  Brian McGrath served as executive director of Gov. Mitch Daniels' Aiming Higher PAC.  Previously he was Assistant Vice President of Workforce and Economic Development Partnerships for the Department of Workforce and Economic Development at Ivy Community College.  Finance director on Daniels' 2008 re-election campaign.  Director of Development and Director of Programs and State Relations at the Milton & Rose D. Friedman Foundation.  Finance director for the Indiana Republican Party.  B.A. from Indiana University. 

Mike Huckabee

(ruled out May 14, 2011) Hogan Gidley is executive director of HUCK PAC (announced Feb. 2010). He served as communications director for Sen. Elizabeth Dole (NC)'s re-election campaign in 2008. Executive director of the South Carolina Republican party in 2006-07.  Worked for Richard Quinn and Associates, where he served as campaign adviser and spokesperson to South Carolina Gov. David Beasley. From 2000-04, Gidley worked in a variety of roles for Gov. Mike Huckabee, including director of media operations.  Another key Huckabee-ite is Huckabee's daughter, Sarah Huckabee, who most recently served as campaign manager on Rep. John Boozman's successful U.S. Senate campaign in Arkansas.  She headed the PAC from its founding in April 2008, after serving as national field director on his presidential campaign.

Haley Barbour 

(ruled out April 25, 2011) One of the key people in Gov. Haley Barbour's realm is nephew Henry Barbour, who is the Republican National Committeeman for the state of Mississippi, partner at Capitol Resources LLC, and who managed Barbour's 2003 campaign for governor.  Barbour seemed on his way to launching a campaign.  In March 2011 veteran communications strategist Jim Dyke of Charleston, SC signed on as communications advisor.  Also in March, Barbour brought on as advisors veteran political operatives Mike Dennehy and Paul Young in New Hampshire and Sally Bradshaw in Florida.  In the first part of April Matt Gronewald started with Haley's PAC in Iowa.  Politico even reported on April 25, when Barbour ruled out a run, that Barbour "had lined up" Rob Collins as likely campaign manager. 

George Pataki

(ruled out April 20, 2011) Among those on Pataki's team at Revere America are Christopher Larson, managing director of the Pataki-Cahill Group, David Catalfamo of Capitol Public Strategies in Albany, Kim Minarich, who does scheduling at Revere America, and policy advisor Jim Wooten.

For other early work on campaign organization see the Washington Post's Chris Cillizza ("Inner Circle") and Politico (for example, the Romney page is at...http://www.politico.com/2012-election/mitt-romney/campaign-insiders/index.html)