Talent and Organization - Florida

By the close of the Florida primary campaign three Republican presidential campaigns organizations were active in the state.  Romney for President had been building its Florida team since June 2011.  The campaign viewed Florida as a "firewall" and put together an organization to back that, including an impressive array of endorsements.  Newt 2012 only really started putting together an organization in late 2011; the campaign did have 13 offices around the state by primary day.  Rick Santorum for President announced his team on January 13.  The Ron Paul campaign did not even go so far as to announce any campaign leadership or supporters.  Several candidates who dropped out had built significant organizations notably Perry, Cain, Huntsman and Pawlenty.

updated January 31, 2012


Gingrich Paul Romney Santorum

Perry Huntsman Bachmann Cain Pawlenty

Newt Gingrich +

The Gingrich campaign started with an office in Miami, FL and by primary day had opened 13 offices around the state.  Jose Mallea, who served as campaign manager on Marco Rubio's 2010 U.S. Senate campaign, is state director, first reported Dec. 12, 2011.  Former Attorney General Bill McCollum is state chairman.  There is an extensive steering committee and on Dec. 20 the campaign announced chairs in all 67 counties. 

Ron Paul

Mitt Romney +

Molly Donlin is state director.  In 2010 Donlin directed Republicans' Michigan Victory effort.  In the fall 2008 campaign she directed Republicans' Victory 2008 effort in Arizona; earlier in the cycle she served as field director for Central Florida on the Rudy Giuliani Presidential Committee.  There is an extensive finance committee.  On Dec. 21 the campaign announced chairs in all 67 counties.  Among the many endorsements, Romney is backed by eight congressman, Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam and Attorney General Pam Bondi.

Rick Santorum +

On Jan. 13, 2012 the campaign announced its Florida team lead by chairman Jesse Biter of Sarasota.  Michael Phillips, a marketing and creative concepts consultant from West Palm Beach, is state director.  There are several other statewide staff and a regional campaign team working around the state.


Rick Perry +

Within days of his announcement Perry had received endorsements from four state legislators, and on Aug. 24, 2011 House Speaker Dean Cannon added his endorsement.  His state director is Nick Hansen, who most recently served as a strategist and legislative assistant to state Rep. Jeff Brandes; his political director is Bret Prater, who formerly held that role on Tim Pawlenty's campaign and whose experience includes political director of the RPOF in the 2010 cycle.  Randy Enwright and Jim Rimes are senior advisors.

Jon Huntsman +

Huntsman had established his national campaign headquarters in Orlando (grand opening on the afternoon of June 23); however he moved operations to New Hampshire at the beginning of October.  His state director is Nikki Jerger Lowrey; she had been doing public relations and government affairs consulting since March 2009, and her experience includes director of external affairs in the office of Gov. Jeb Bush, 2003-05.   The campaign also has consultants David "DJ" Johnson, Marc Reichelderfer and Alex W. Castellanos, Jr..  A couple of Floridians are leading its youth and Hispanic outreach efforts: Jeb Bush Jr. is national chair of GenH and Ana Navarro is national Hispanic chairperson.

Herman Cain +

On Oct. 26, 2011 the campaign announced an extensive Florida organization led by statewide chairs former state Sen. Carey Baker, former Mayor of St. Petersburg Rick Baker, state Rep. Scott Plakon and businesswoman Kathleen Shanahan.  Additionally, Adam Goodman, president of The Victory Group, is serving as Florida senior strategist and media advisor and Arlene DiBenigo, founder of Unico Strategies, is Florida senior advisor.

Tim Pawlenty +

Pawlenty had a very solid organization before he pulled out on August 14.  Phil Handy is state chairman and national finance co-chair.  In 2007-08 he served as a Florida co-chair on Sen. John McCain's campaign.  Handy was state chairman of Jeb Bush’s gubernatorial campaigns in Florida in 1993-94 and 1997-98; and co-chairman of his 2002 re-election campaign.   Announced as co-chairs are Justin Sayfie, state Rep. (and Speaker Designate) Will Weatherford and Slater Bayliss.  A total of fourteen state Representatives has endorsed Pawlenty.