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O'Malley Has 2010 Campaign Manager On Board

No big-name challengers to Martin O'Malley (D) have yet to emerge, but the governor seems to be taking little for granted as he heads toward a 2010 election year in which the sour economy is expected to play a defining role.

The latest sign of that was today's confirmation that O'Malley has hired Thomas Russell, a veteran political operative as manager of his re-election campaign. Russell has been on board since mid-June, quietly toiling in a small office in Baltimore. For now, he is seeking to ramp up fundraising efforts and build other campaign infrastructure.

Russell spent the past two and a half years on Capitol Hill as staff director of the Senate Democratic Steering and Outreach Committee, which aims to build support for Democratic policy positions and strengthen relationships with party consitutency groups.

Before that, Russell managed Sen. Debbie Stabenow's 2006 re-election campaign in Michigan and played roles in other races in Rhode Island, Wisconsin, California, Michigan, New Jersey and New York.

With his pick, O'Malley is once again reaching outside his inner circle -- sometimes dubbed "the Irish mafia" -- for someone to handle the day-to-day operations of his campaign. A similar move resulted in the firing of O'Malley's first campaign manager during the 2006 cycle, when O'Malley defeated former governor Robert L. Ehrlich (R).

In an interview, Russell said he is confident that O'Malley has a solid record on which to run, and he said that the biggest challenge facing the campaign is the economy.

"Regardless of what any public official has done, people are feeling a lot of uncertainty right now," he said.

Russell said he is making no assumptions at this point as to whom O'Malley may face, either in the general election next fall or in a possible Democratic primary matchup before then. The biggest question mark is whether former governor Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R) will seek a rematch of his failed 2006 race against O'Malley.

O'Malley has also retained another national Democratic operative, Craig Varoga, as general consultant to the campaign. Varoga is no stranger to O'Malley World. He managed the successful 2008 referendum on legalizing slots in Maryland, which O'Malley orchestrated. Varoga has also worked on past Democratic gubernatorial campaigns of Bill Richardson in New Mexico, Tom Vilsack in Iowa and Janet Napolitano in Arizona.

By John Wagner  |  August 5, 2009; 2:33 PM ET
Categories:  John Wagner  
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I am so glad O'Malley is preparing for the election well in advance. Kathleen K Townshend made a big mistake by delaying her serious attention to the election and we ended up with Bob Ehrlich who drove the state in the wrong direction for 4 years. O'Malley knows how to govern for all the people, he needs to take nothing for granted.

Posted by: CarmanK | August 6, 2009 1:53 PM | Report abuse

He has to start early. He has been such a failure and there are so many lies and messes to clean up for the Teflon Leprechaun. He is history next time through anyways. Trends of surrounding states leading in the Red, just ask VA and Delaware and soon PA. Sorry, but the propaganda machine is not going to work this time, Failure As Governor on the heals of a Failing President I once heard, when it came to Ehrlich. Karma, you gotta love it.

Posted by: coastersgr8stang | August 6, 2009 3:57 PM | Report abuse

OMalley inherited a whole lot of budgetary crap from the past administration, however, he has not shown any real ability or desire to try something completely different and end the budget woes in this state once and for all. In part, he is saddled with a one party legislature that can never say no to pork. And then there's that whole pack of hungry lobbyists who have seduced whatever party is in charge, to fund every proposal they want.
But I agree, OMalley can't take us voters for granted. I'm a Democrat and won't hesitate to vote against him if he dosn't do a better job.

Posted by: VikingRider | August 6, 2009 4:09 PM | Report abuse

How can you support a man, who has grown the maryland budget by 2 billion a year, raised the highest taxes in the country and in the history of maryland during an economic downturn, spend off his stimulus on new projects that did not go to create jobs as promised. etc. Is for Illegal Aliens in Maryland. This is the worse governor in Maryland history. There is growing concern of his ego driven agenda in Maryland. He will loose the next election. Now he is going to create a Cabinet Post, another tax payer funded state position for Illegal Immigration. You want to pay? Keep on paying for me too, cause this man is a liar and a cheater.

Posted by: coastersgr8stang | August 6, 2009 8:47 PM | Report abuse

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