Gillespie Hits Hard; Staffs Up With Some Impressive Names

Gillespie is wasting no time learning how to stick and move, as the left jab of this campaign early on appears to be Obamacare and the individual mandate:

Meanwhile, the campaign itself is assembling a rather impressive team of professionals, not only recruiting native Virginia talent (Leavitt, Logan from Team Obenshain) but also fellow Fredericksburg native Katherine Harris, who comes along from the RSLC in Washington.

Most notably — and the one I’m most excited for — is Eric Wilson coming over from Engage DC (Patrick Ruffini’s outfit) to handle digital communications.  This tells me that for all the mishaps of 2013, the Gillespie campaign is quite serious about not replicating the errors of the 2013 cycle.  Expect excellence this year, folks…

Bios follow below the fold.

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Katherine Harris, Director of Scheduling and Operations

Katherine Harris most recently worked at the Republican State Leadership Committee in Washington, DC. Previously, she served as Director of Scheduling in the administration of Governor Bob McDonnell from 2011 – 2013 and as Special Assistant for Appointments in the Secretary of the Commonwealth’s Office prior to that. Harris also worked as Finance Assistant on McDonnell’s 2009 campaign for governor as well as on his Inaugural planning committee. Harris has a degree in Mass Communications from Virginia Commonwealth University. She is from Fredericksburg, Virginia.

Chris Leavitt, Campaign Manager

Chris Leavitt recently managed Senator Mark Obenshain’s campaign for Attorney General during the 2013 election cycle. Chris Leavitt also managed Congressman Bob Goodlatte’s reelection campaign in 2012. Leavitt during the 2011 election cycle managed Senator Bryce Reeves’ run for State Senate, which ousted twenty eight year incumbent Senator Edd Houck of Spotsylvania. In 2010 Leavitt served as a Regional Director for the Michigan Republican party during the general election and as Political Director for Gubernatorial candidate Sheriff Mike Bouchard. During the 2009 campaign cycle in Virginia he served as a Regional Director for the Republican Party of Virginia in Albemarle County. Leavitt graduated from the University of Maine in 2008 with a degree in Political Science.

Paul Logan, Communications Director

Paul Logan most recently worked as Director of Communications for Mark Obenshain during his 2013 campaign for Virginia Attorney General and the recount. Paul Logan served in the administration of Governor Bob McDonnell from January, 2011 to June, 2013 as Deputy Press Secretary then Deputy Communications Director. Logan formerly served as Deputy Director of Political Communications for the Republican Governors Association, overseeing their national tracking efforts in the 2010 mid-term elections. During McDonnell’s 2009 campaign for governor he served as Research Coordinator. During the 2008 Presidential election Logan worked on Senator John McCain’s campaign as Press Assistant to the Mid-Atlantic Regional Communications Director. Logan graduated from Tulane University in 2008 with a degree in English and Economics and a minor in Political Science. He is a native of Arlington, Virginia.

Eric Wilson, Digital Director

Eric Wilson joins the campaign from the American Action Forum, the American Action Network, and the Congressional Leadership Fund where he served as Digital Director. From November 2009 – February 2013 Wilson worked at Engage as a Client Strategist where he managed the firm’s congressional clients and digital advertising. Prior to joining Engage, he worked on Capitol Hill at the House Republican Policy Committee and in the office of Rep. Michael C. Burgess, M.D. Wilson graduated from the University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee in 2007 with a degree in Mathematics. He is a proud native of Wichita Falls, Texas.

  • These are very good signs. After worrying we would be unable to put up a real candidate to take on Mark Warner, things are now coming together.

    • Steven Thomas

      They better be good, their guy is underwater in approval rating and down by 29 points.

      • amish40

        I would not put too much thought into that poll. Yes, Gillespie is behind right now. Yes, it is going to be an uphill fight.. but that poll is complete junk. It is largely based on name recognition. I guarantee you, a lot of people haven’t heard of Ed Gillespie, whereas most voters will know who Mark Warner is. Warner also has a voting record too, so expect attack ads on that (particularly ACA).

        Roanoke College also has some really bad polling. They had Romney and Allen up by 5 in Virginia, and look how that turned out. I believe they had McAuliffe up by 15, and he only won by 2.5. I’d say Gillespie is realistically down about 15 right now, It’s going to be an uphill battle, but I think he’s got a good team in place.

        • Steven Thomas

          Here’s the problem. You already have the Dems putting billboards up everywhere, defining Gillespie as “Enron Ed”. They will have limitless resources to use his past to define him before he gets out the gate. They can’t do that with every candidate.
          Wouldn’t it be better to, I don’t know, NOT nominate someone with such a questionable past- especially in light of the McDonnell scandal? I mean, is having high negatives (over positives) something we are going to START looking for now?

          • There is no such thing as a perfect candidate. They don’t exist. Nobody is perfect and if we only nominate people who have nothing that can be used about them by an opponent, we can’t really nominate anybody. We could nominate Superman and the Democrats would say he was an illegal immigrant. That’s how campaigns work.

            If it wasn’t Enron, it would be some thing else. And it doesn’t even have to be true, as Sarah Palin found out.

            Besides, if we shouldn’t nominate anybody who had a resume and past history that was easily open to attack, you just disqualified EW.

          • Turbocohen

            Lets see.. Enron vs OBAMACARE.. I’ll take Enron…

          • Eric McGrane

            Isn’t it more accurate to say Enron AND Obamacare vs Obamacare?

          • No.

          • Turbocohen

            Read the book. Ed did not propose Obamascare..

          • Sure. Problem is the only two other candidates who have declared have no money. Have been campaigning for quite some time and failed to gain any traction. We run them and it won’t matter how clean their resume’ is, they will be defined by Warner if not outright ignored and on election day people will say “Who’s running against Warner?”
            Then Mark will win by as big as 08 and his coattails could very possibly wipe out Rigell and whoever is running for Wolf’s seat.
            My advice, focus on the 10th. You’ve got a good candidate in Comstock, and I’m sure there are others who are just as Conservative who might run.
            Grassroots had their chance in 2013. Give the moderates a freaking bone.

      • Straight up name ID. Not surprised at all.

      • This is a joke, right?

      • WorriedinVA

        Warner wants everyone to think he’s a moderate. Ed will hammer home that he is anything but that – his voting record speaks differently.

      • midwestconservative

        Most of that angst comes from rabble rousers like you. Let it go.
        You’ll get another chance just not this year.

    • Eric McGrane

      I’m assuming that “real” candidate equates to “good” candidate?

      I’m wondering if we’ve reached the point where its politically gauche to discuss the merits of the actual candidate, or if only the presence of ones favored alpha-character of ones team is all that matters (D or R).

      It seems that most political discussion these days is limited to whether or not your team can win, versus the pros/cons of each candidate outside of ability to win.

      It’ll be interesting to watch the approach here and across other forums of discussion.

      • Not necessarily. There are real candidates who aren’t good candidates.

        The reason why so many discussions are limited to whether a candidate can win is that we see so few candidates that meet the baseline credibility determination between someone who is a legitimate candidate and someone who is a crank.

        If you can’t get past that basic credibility test, there is no point talking about pros and cons.

        It’s basically the same reason why, as a Redskins fan, I don’t talk about us winning a Super Bowl next season, when I will be happy if we break .500.

        As for the R/D debate, that’s as old as political parties.

        • ghostofteddalton

          And, as I’ve mentioned before….Citizens United changed politics in a bad way for both conservatives and liberals.

          It’s simply flooded the entire system with money. It’s created an environment where the only “good” candidates are those that can raise money or convince a couple of billionaires to set up an outside group and fund it.

          You saw it last year with McAuliffe and you’re going to see it this year in Gillespie v. Warner…..the political system has turned into a playpen for those with and/or have access to huge money.

          • It’s a real problem.

            if you make it impossible for anybody except millionaires to run for office, that’s what you’ll get.

          • Quite a few non millionaires are running for office.

  • mezurak

    A real candidate… yes sir… Is this before or after McD starts dragging skeletons out of hiding in order to save his a$$? How many of these long hidden bones may have national significance worth cutting a few years off his little problem? And you are worried you won’t have a ‘real candidate’? Shouldn’t you be worried you may no longer have a real party?

  • Mike Wilburt

    Clearly, the Gillespie team watched the late Cuccinelli drive that focused on ObamaCare.
    I am not a Gillespie fan yet. I will be if he’s the guy after the convention.

  • Nick Bukowski

    Katherine Harris served as director of scheduling for McDonnell from 2011-2013. Couldn’t this be a potential problem considering the McDonnell indictment. If she was the director of scheduling, I’m pretty sure she would have known about every meeting involving Star Scientific etc. Couldn’t this be some pretty bad baggage to have on Ed’s Campaign team. What happens when she’s called as a material witness? Maybe she was involved zero and knew nothing about the whole gift scandal, but with a title of Director of Scheduling for the McDonnell Administration, this could become a liability.

    • This will have zero impact in the campaign.

    • Turbocohen

      Ted Cruz is a family friend of the Gillespies too.. This is no liability heading into convention.. In fact having Cruz, Lee, Paul, Cuccinelli and Comstock as allies won’t hurt Ed one bit in Roanoke.

    • midwestconservative

      Prediction: Cuccinelli, Lee, Paul, and others will all endorse Gillespie. Every sitting Congressman will either endorse him or choose not to.
      Gillespie is a nice guy, he’s no hardcore conservative, but he’s the best candidate in the current field. If you point to someone who can in fact win and raise enough funds to do so ( and if his name is not Bill Bolling) then maybe I’d support him, as of now out of three declared candidates Gillespie is the only one who can raise the necessary funds to compete.

  • WorriedinVA

    Get ahead of the negatives from the progressives. Enron and McDonnell will be used against Ed in some borderline-dishonest fashion. Republicans need to get some great social psychologists to push the message and turn the negative on Warner.

    • Turbocohen

      Lets see.. McDonnell vs OBAMACARE.. I’ll take McDonnell..

  • Peter Sperry

    There is little question Gillespie needs Warner to stumble into a “maccaca” moment to have a realistic chance at winning. He also needs to have a quality campaign team in place, capable of capitalizing on the opportunity if/when it happens. He also needs to maintain the type of pressure which can produce the opportunity. This is what Webb did to Allen and it worked. Webb had a good campaign team in place that was ready to pounce given the opportunity. He personally attacked Allen early and often. He deployed trackers and hecklers to annoy Allen’s campaign staff and generate a response. Then he waited. The rest is history.

    Gillespie faces both an easier and more difficult task this time. Warner is notoriously thin skinned and steady pressure can provoke an embarrassing response. But his campaign knows this and will take precautions to avoid it. More importantly, Webb could count on the WaPo to carry most of the attack for him. They were and are open allies of Democrats in Va and no longer make any meaningful effort to pretend otherwise. Nevertheless, the potential for Warner to stumble remains very real.

    It is gratifying to have a candidate making the right moves to be prepared. Entirely too often, Republicans have been unable to take advantage of late summer, early fall mistakes by Democrats because we wrote off a race as unwinnable and ran a mediocre candidate with a bush league campaign team. We may have an uphill battle to unseat Warner, but at least team Gillespie is making all the right moves to maximize the probability Warner stumbles and take advantage of it when he does.

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