Clinton with Shaheen and Hassan last autumn

Mar 13, 2015 12:02 PM

Paul Steinhauser: Sources confirm Hillary Clinton makes big hires in NH

NH1 Political Director -

CONCORD - A New Hampshire political secret is a secret no longer.

In a big step towards launching a second presidential campaign, political aides close to Hillary Clinton are confirming Friday that some top members of Sen. Jeanne Shaheen's 2014 re-election campaign are being hired to steer the former secretary of state's efforts in the first-in-the-nation primary state.

Multiple national and New Hampshire Democratic sources familiar with the moves tell NH1 that Clinton has selected Mike Vlacich to serve as state director of her all but expected presidential campaign. The sources asked to remain anonymous to speak more freely, since the hires won't be official until the launch of a Clinton campaign, which is expected in the next few weeks.

Vlacich served as campaign manager for Shaheen last year, as she fended off former Sen. Scott Brown, the GOP challenger, during a tough midterm climate for Democrats. Prior to the 2014 cycle, Vlacich served as New Hampshire state director for Shaheen's Senate office.

Also being hired are 2014 campaign political director Kari Thurman and communications director Harrell Kirstein, who will work in the same positions for the expected Clinton campaign.

"For nearly two decades, Mike Vlacich has been a trusted advisor and a close friend. He is both a dedicated public servant and a brilliant political strategist. Mike, Kari and Harrell are among the best people I've ever worked with and I'm thankful for their service. I wish them well in their next venture and know they will continue to work to make New Hampshire and the country a better place," said Shaheen in a statement.

The hires are being overseen by Robby Mook, who's expected to serve as Clinton's national campaign manager. Mook knows New Hampshire well, steering Shaheen's 2008 election to the Senate. He also worked in the Granite State for 2004 Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean.

The announcements in New Hampshire, as well as in Iowa (where Matt Paul, a longtime adviser to former two-term governor and current U.S. Agriculture Sec. Tom Vilsack, is expected to steer the campaign), come as Clinton deals with fallout from a controversy the past week and a half over her exclusive use of a private email account during her four years as secretary of state during President Barack Obama's first term. It's not clear if the new announcements were in reaction to the email controversy, as well as an earlier controversy over the Clinton Foundation's acceptance of donations from foreign countries.

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