Jeb staffs up for presidential run

Jeb Bush 3By Lynn R. Mitchell

As former Florida Governor Jeb Bush continues to lay the groundwork for a 2016 presidential run, experienced staff are being added, according to political reporter Marc Caputo at the Miami Herald (see Jeb Bush staffs up for presidential campaign, hires Mitt Romney advisor):

From Florida’s capital to early voting Iowa, Jeb Bush dramatically beefed up his political committee this week making it the largest GOP presidential campaign-in-waiting.

Bush’s Right to Rise PAC officially hired Iowa strategist David Kochel and opened its Tallahassee headquarters where at least eight staffers are based.

Kochel would slide into the role of national campaign manager should Bush formally enter the race — and it’s inconceivable at this point he will pull back. He gives Bush someone with presidential experience but is far from the Washington, D.C., bubble.

Caputo adds that the national Jeb Bush campaign headquarters is setting up in Tallahassee for a reason:

Tallahassee was a natural pick for a Bush political team because it’s populated with fiercely loyal Republicans and former employees of the governor — starting with Bush’s longtime adviser, Sally Bradshaw.

Florida, much like Virginia, has seen turmoil in its Republican Party with Governor Rick Scott. On the other hand, the years when Governor Bush was leading the state were more stable:

By contrast, Bush’s tenure leading Florida Republicans was largely free of the bitterness and intrigue currently gripping the state GOP. For many Republicans who fondly recall the Bush era, the PAC’s location in Tallahassee is a welcome reminder of better days for the party.

The all-important staff that has been added to the campaign so far:

Though titles haven’t been officially released, here’s a partial list of the Tallahassee PAC’s staff:

Sally Bradshaw: A longtime Bush confidante, Bradshaw lives near Tallahassee and is the Right to Rise director. Bradshaw abruptly resigned her post as a state Board of Education member in 2013. Before then, she co-chaired what was called the GOP’s post-2012 “autopsy” report to figure out how to win presidential elections. Before the 2012 elections, she briefly worked for former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour’s political committee as he mulled a run for president. Bradshaw also served as an adviser to Romney in his 2008 presidential bid.

Kristy Campbell: Bush’s top spokeswoman packed her bags and left Washington last week and moved back to the state capital, where she had worked for Gov. Bush before joining Attorney General Bill McCollum’s unsuccessful bid for governor in 2010. Campbell worked communications for Romney’s 2008 and 2012 presidential campaigns.

Matt Gorman: The former rapid-response director for the National Republican Congressional Committee in 2014, Gorman was a deputy rapid-response director for Romney’s 2012 campaign. He moved from Washington and began working at the PAC’s Tallahassee offices this week.

Jesse Hunt: The former deputy communications director for Scott Brown’s U.S. Senate campaign in New Hampshire, Hunt worked briefly for the Republican Party of Florida, America Rising PAC and the Massachusetts Senate campaign of Gabriel Gomez in 2013.

Josh Venable: A former Republican National Committee deputy finance director, Venable worked for Bush’s Foundation for Excellence in Education nonprofit before signing on with Right to Rise and moving to Tallahassee.

Karen Unger: A Tallahassee resident, Unger served as Bush’s 2002 re-election campaign manager and was the Bush campaign’s Broward and Palm Beach field director in 1998. She worked for Bush as deputy chief of staff and as a director for external affairs and appointments. Unger worked as Rudy Giuliani’s senior adviser for Florida during his 2008 presidential race. She also served as campaign manager of former U.S. Rep. Clay Shaw’s 1996 re-election campaign.

Brandi Brown: A Tallahassee resident, Brown is leaving her post as external affairs director for Bush’s foundation and will serve in a similar capacity for Right to Rise. She worked for Bush’s 1998 campaign, worked in a variety of posts for Bush’s administration and became deputy staff chief at Florida’s Agency for Health Care Administration. In 2004, Brown also worked for the Bush-Cheney re-election campaign in Florida.

Pablo Diaz: A Tallahassee resident, Diaz was Bondi’s campaign manager in 2014 and, before that, was the lead lobbyist for the conservative National Federation of Independent Business/Florida. Diaz was tapped by the new RPOF chairman, state Rep. Blaise Ingoglia, to lead transition efforts at the party where he once served as a deputy executive director.

Jeb is moving forward, talking policy and his famous last name and more. Stay tuned….

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