Paul Steinhauser: Scott Walker staffs up in NH for probable 2016 bid
CONCORD - Scott Walker chose a New Hampshire insider, and an outsider, to lead his political team in the first-in-the-nation primary state.
The Wisconsin governor's political action committee confirmed to NH1 Tuesday evening that veteran Granite State GOP consultant Andy Leach will be the senior advisor for Walker's Our American Revival PAC, while Michael Bir will run the day to day political operations.
The announcements come as Walker moves closer and closer to launching a campaign for the 2016 Republican presidential campaign.
Leach's extremely well known in New Hampshire. He served two terms as executive director of the state GOP, including during the 2010 cycle under former Gov. John H. Sununu when the Republicans trounced the Democrats in an historic wave election from the state house to federal level. Leach ran Sen. Kelly Ayotte's in-state political operation from 2011 until last year, and was instrumental in Jennifer Horn's 2013 election as New Hampshire GOP party chair. He was also an adviser to Mitt Romney's 2012 presidential campaign and to Scott Brown's 2014 Senate campaign.
Bir served the Republican National Committee's Ohio victory director in the 2010 and 2012 cycles. He was the Michigan Republican Party's political director during the 2014 cycle.
One of Bir's first tasks will be to get to know the Granite State's roster of Republican activists, operatives, and officials. Number one on Bir's to-do list will be to get to know the roster of New Hampshire GOP officials, consultants, operatives, and activists.
If Walker eventually launches a presidential campaign, which is considered likely, both Leach and Bir would move to official campaign roles.
First elected governor in 2010 in a state that leans towards the Democrats, Walker became a national hero to many conservatives thanks to his high profile 2011-2012 battle against state public sector unions over collective bargaining rights.
His speech last month at the Iowa Freedom Summit was very well received by conservative activists and earned him buzz in the national media.
And his numbers are on the rise in New Hampshire. He topped a recent NH1 Pulse Poll of those likely to vote in the 2016 GOP primary, and came in second to Jeb Bush in two other recent surveys.
Walker's headed to New Hampshire next month, his first visit to the Granite State in a couple of years. And while he's not very well known right now, longtime Concord based Republican consultant Tom Rath says that Granite Staters are starting to tune into the next race for the White House.
"We've got an electorate that pays attention. That's one of big things that sells our primary year in and year out. It's not just that week before the primary that matters, it's that run up to the primary. They're looking at Walker and he tied that speech and that positive publicity to time a to a time when Mitt Romney said he wasn't running anymore," Rath told NH1 recently.
Rath added that 2012 GOP nominee Mitt Romney's exit two and a half weeks ago from the 2016 race "created a vacuum and people began to look around and say ‘who else is there' and in that regard Walker picked a very good time to have a moment in the sun."