Key People-Gov. Tim Pawlenty
Freedom First PAC, St. Paul, MN     ...formed Oct. 2009 >
  [website, FEC]
Oct. 2009 through March 21, 2011, then see exploratory committee >

(page updated March 30, 2011)

Chairman  Gov. Tim Pawlenty

William H. Strong

(announced Oct. 1, 2009)  Vice Chairman of Morgan Stanley.

Honorable Vin Weber

(announced Oct. 1, 2009)  Managing partner at Clark and Weinstock.  Served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1981-93 representing Minnesota's 2nd CD.

Minnesota Co-Chairs

(announced Oct. 1, 2009) Al & Cathy Annexstad, Shorewood, Minnesota  |  Bill Cooper, Chairman of the Board and CEO, TCF Financial Corporation, and former Chairman of Republican Party of Minnesota.  |  Mark Davis, Chairman, Cambria   |  Megan Doyle, Founder, Hope for the City  |  Jeff Larson, Former CEO, 2008 MSP Host Committee and Partner, FLS Connect.  |  Susan Marvin, President, Marvin Windows  |  Tim Owens, CEO, Voyager Bank  |  Tom Stauber, President & owner, Edwards Sales  |  Bob Ulrich, Former CEO, Target

Senior Advisor  Phil Musser

(announced Oct. 1, 2009) President of New Frontier Strategy consulting firm, founded Jan. 2007.  In 2007 Musser served as senior advisor to Mitt Romney (R-MA)'s presidential campaign as well as to the campaigns of Governor Matt Blunt (R-MO) and Governor Bobby Jindal (R-LA).  Executive director of the Republican Governors Association, Nov. 2005-Jan. 2007 (named by Gov. Romney).  Vice president of The Dutko Group Companies, announced July 2004.  A deputy director in organizing the G8 Summit, in Sea Island, GA.  Deputy chief of staff to Secretaries Alphonso Jackson and Mel Martinez at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Jan. 2001-April 2004.  Senior staff member for the 2001 Presidential Inaugural Committee.  A lead advance representative for the Bush-Cheney campaign in 2000 in Austin, Texas.  Assistant vice president to Dutko’s state and local lobbying firm, K*N*P, Jan. 1998-Aug. 2000.  Advance representative on Dole for President, 1995-96.  Special assistant at the RNC, 1994-95.  B.A. in History from Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio, 1994.

Senior Advisor  Terry Nelson

(announced Oct. 1, 2009) Most recently partner at Mercury Public Affairs; became a partner when his Crosslink Strategy Group merged into the firm in May 2006.  Campaign manager on John McCain 2008, Dec. 2006-July 2007.  Senior advisor to McCain's Straight Talk America leadership PAC from March 2006; in Fall 2006 he also headed the RNC's independent expenditure effort.  Founder and managing partner of Crosslink Strategy Group; also a consultant and member of Akerman Senterfitt's Policy practice group.  Political director for Bush-Cheney '04, 2003-04 (announced May 30, 2003).  Deputy chief of staff and director of political operations at the RNC from January 2002 until joining the Bush campaign.  In February 2001 Nelson and two partners formed Dawson, McCarthy, Nelson Media, a Washington, DC consulting firm.  Political director for the NRCC during the 2000 cycle, and earlier served as the NRCC's national field director, 1997-99.  Majority staff director of the Iowa Senate, 1997.  NRCC field representative, 1995-96.  Campaign manager for Rep. Jim Nussle, 1992-95.  Graduate of the University of Iowa with a B.S. in political science, 1994.  From Marshalltown, Iowa.

Senior Advisor  Sara Taylor

(announced Oct. 1, 2009) President of BlueFront Strategies, which she founded in 2007 >; also co-founder of Resonate Networks, 2008.  Taylor worked for eight years for George W. Bush, starting late April 1999-Jan. 2000 as coalitions director for Bush's Iowa caucus campaign, and finishing in May 2007 as White House Political Director reporting to Karl Rove; she was the youngest White House political director ever.  Prior to joining Bush, Taylor worked for two years at the Tarrance Group, the No. Va. polling firm headed by Ed Goeas.  In 1995-96 she worked on Sen. Phil Gramm's presidential campaign in Iowa.  Graduate of Drake University, 1997.  From Dubuque, Iowa; her father Ray Taylor served as a state representative.

Communications Director  Alex Conant

(announced Oct. 1, 2009)  Press secretary at the Republican National Committee in the 2008 cycle.  Midwest regional spokesman in the White House Office of Media Affairs.  Spokesman at the Office of Management and Budget.  Press secretary to Sen. John Thune (R-SD), Jan.-Aug. 2005.  Communications director on George Nethercutt's 2004 campaign for U.S. Senate in Washington State.  Speechwriter for Secretary of Commerce Don Evans.  Worked on Norm Coleman's 2002 U.S. Senate campaign.  B.A. and M.P.A. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he was editor-in-chief of the Badger Herald.  Grew up in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Online Strategy  Patrick Ruffini and Mindy Finn, Engage

(announced Oct. 1, 2009) Ruffini and Finn are partners at Engage, which he founded in 2007.  After the 2008 elections they started Ruffini and Finn were a team on Bush-Cheney '04 and subsequently at the RNC.
Ruffini - eCampaign director at the RNC, announced Oct. 11, 2005 through to Jan. 2007.  Webmaster and blogger for Bush-Cheney '04, responsible for managing President George W. Bush’s reelection campaign website, starting in June 2003.  Deputy director of online communications at the RNC, July 2002-June 2003.  Staff assistant at American Enterprise Institute, March 2001-June 2002.  Ruffini ran a political blog which launched in July 2001.  May 2000 graduate of the University of Pennsylvania with B.A. in Diplomatic History and Political Science; was chairman of Penn College Republicans, 1998-99.
Finn - Director of e-strategy on Mitt Romney's campaign.  Director of new media and technology on Sen. Rick Santorum's 2006 campaign.  Deputy eCampaign director at the RNC starting in early 2005.  Deputy webmaster on Bush-Cheney '04.  Worked on Capitol Hill for Congressman Lamar Smith (R-TX), as legislative correspondent and webmaster, and for Sen. Michael Enzi (R-WY).  Prior to entering politics, Finn worked as a congressional correspondent for a Connecticut daily newspaper.  She is originally from Houston, Texas.

Online Communications Outreach  Liz Mair and Patrick Hynes of Hynes Communications

(announced Oct. 1, 2009)  Hynes Communications
- Online communications director at the Republican National Committee in 2008.  Lived in the United Kingdom for ten years where she earned an M.A. in international relations from the University of St. Andrews, attended law school, and practiced corporate law in the London for three years.  Born and raised in Seattle, WA.
Hynes - President of the firm.  Online outreach consultant for Sen. John McCain’s 2008 campaign. Experience also includes account executive with the consulting firm Marsh Copsey + Scott.  Author of In Defense of the Religious Right (Nelson Current).

Policy Director  Brian Hook

(reported by Politico Jan. 29, 2010) Appointed Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of International Organization Affairs, March 2008.  A senior advisor to the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations from 2006-08.  Special Assistant to the President for Policy, Office of the Chief of Staff at the White House.  Counsel in the Office of Legal Policy at the Department of Justice from 2003-04.  Practiced corporate law at Hogan and Hartson LLP in Washington, DC, 1999-2003.  Deputy legislative liaison for Gov. Terry E. Branstad of Iowa. Legislative aide to Congressman James A. Leach.  Law degree from the University of Iowa, 1999; Master’s degree in philosophy from Boston College; and a bachelor’s degree in marketing from the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Director of New Media and Deputy Policy Director  Elise Stefanik

"Economic think tanker."  Founded American Maggie, a website for conservative and Republican women, in Sept. 2009.  Executive assistant to the Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy and Chief of Staff in the White House Chief of Staff's office, and earlier worked on the President’s Domestic Policy Council.  Graduate of Harvard University, 2006.  Originally from upstate New York; "worked on numerous political campaigns growing up."

Finance Director  Brian Haley

(announced Dec. 4, 2009) National finance director for John McCain’s Country First PAC after serving as the deputy finance director for McCain-Palin 2008.  J.D. from University of Texas School of Law, Dec. 2009.  Worked in China for Dell Computers.

Minnesota Finance Director  Trisha Hamm

(announced Oct. 1, 2009) Political director for Pawlenty’s gubernatorial campaign committee in 2007-08 when it was not clear if he would seek a third term.  Graduate of the University of Minnesota-Duluth, 2000.

Scheduler  Caitlin Dunn

(started in Dec. 2009)  Worked on the McCain-Palin campaign.  B.A. from the University of Notre Dame, 2008.

Operations Director  Annie Kelly 

(announced Oct. 1, 2009) Deputy campaign manager for Pawlenty’s campaign in 2006.

Treasurer  Don Stiles

(announced Oct. 1, 2009) Treasurer on Pawlenty's 2006 re-election campaign. Career includes 18 years at ING ReliaStar, Jan. 1983-Dec. 2000, where he served as assistant vice president for corporate tax services.  M.B.A. in accounting from University of Minnesota, 1979; B.A. in economics from Carleton College, 1973.

Counsel  Michael Toner

(announced Oct. 1, 2009) Partner at Bryan Cave LLP where he is head of the firm’s Election Law and Government Ethics practice; joined the firm in 2007.  FEC Commissioner, 2002-07, including chairman in 2006.  General Counsel of the Bush-Cheney transition team in Washington, D.C. and the Bush-Cheney 2000 presidential campaign in Austin, Texas. Deputy Counsel at the RNC, 1997-99.  Counsel to the Dole-Kemp presidential campaign in 1996.  J.D. from Cornell University, 1992; M.A. from Johns Hopkins University, 1989; B.A. from the University of Virginia, 1986.


note the considerable Iowa experience of senior advisors Terry Nelson and Sarah Taylor.

Eric Woolson

(reported March 9, 2011 by Chris Cillizza) President and CEO of The Concept Works, a public, media and government relations and crisis management firm in West Des Moines that he founded in 2002.  Campaign manager for Mike Huckabee's 2007-08 Iowa caucus campaign; started as coordinator of Huckabee's Hope for America PAC in June 2006.  Communications director on then Gov. George W. Bush's Iowa caucus campaign, 1999-2000.  Communications director for Gov. Terry Branstad during his final term.  Previously worked for 20 years as a member of the Iowa press corps.  O.Kay Henderson notes on Radio Iowa, the blog (June 13, 2006) that, "Woolson left the Waterloo Courier in 1987 to work as press secretary for Delaware Senator Joe Biden’s Iowa effort."  He is also author of Grassley: Senator from Iowa (Mid-Prairie Books, Nov. 1995).

By summer 2010 Chuck Larson and Karen Slifka of the Larson Shannahan Slifka Group (LS2g) in West Des Moines were helping with trip planning.  (Larson and Slifka both served as senior advisors to McCain's 2007-08 Iowa caucus campaign.  Larson is a former state legislator and chair of the state party.  Slifka, from Waterloo, started out with Nussle in the early 1990's and worked for Kasich and Forbes in the 2000 Iowa caucus campaign).

Staff  Ben Foster

(reported by the DMR on Sept. 14, 2010) Graduate of the University of Alabama, 2009.

Mark Havelicek of Clive is treasurer of Freedom First PAC Iowa.

Jim Kirkpatrick, chairman of Fayette County Republicans (Jan. 21, 2011) Iowans for Pawlenty 2012


Senior Advisor  Sarah Crawford, b-fresh consulting, LLC

(announced June 2010) Founded b-fresh in 2008 after the McCain campaign.  Deputy campaign manager on John McCain's 2008 NH primary campaign; started in Dec. 2006 as deputy political director, New England region.  Communications director at The Dennehy Group, started there in June 2004.  Eastern region manager for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, based in Rhode Island.  Worked on coalitions for Craig Benson's 2002 gubernatorial campaign.  Assistant to the executive director at the NRCC.  Helped set up McCain's Straight Talk America leadership PAC after the campaign.  Field organizer on McCain's 2000 NH primary campaign.  B.A. in American history from the University of Vermont.

Luke Kraus

(reported by John DiStaso, Granite Status, Aug. 12, for Crawford) B.A. in political science from American University, 2010.  Development intern for Americans for Prosperity, 2007-09, also interned for Sen. Judd Gregg and Executive Councilor Ray Burton.  From Hanover.