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.
August 5, 2009; 2:33 PM ET
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