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Insiders Picked to Manage Parties' Spending

As the midterm elections draw ever closer, the national party committees are beginning to put together the teams who will be charged with spending the tens of millions raised by the organizations.

The vast majority of spending by these committees now comes in the form of independent expenditures (IE's), which can be made in unlimited amounts on behalf of campaigns.  Independent expenditures typically take the form of television ads but can also encompass polling, direct mail, phone banks and other persuasion tools.

In the 2004 cycle alone, the National Republican Congressional Committee spent $47 million on its independent expenditure campaign; the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee spent $37 million.  On the Senate side, theNational Republican Senatorial Committee disbursed $19 million on independent expenditures compared with $18 million spent by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee on its IE program.

The one legal caveat with independent expenditures made by the party committees is that whoever leads a party's IE effort can have no contact with the campaigns on which the IE program is focusing -- a provision aimed at avoiding coordination between the two sides.

Let's take a look at who will be charged with overseeing IE efforts in the 2006 campaign.

* Mike Henry will run the DSCC's independent expenditure campaign.  Henry is expected to start this week. He is a veteran campaign manager -- most recently guiding the successful 2005 campaign of Virginia Gov. Time Kaine (D). In the 2004 cycle, Henry managed the unsuccessful primary candidacy of wealthy businessman Blair Hull (D) in Illinois; in 2002, he was the campaign manager for then state Del. Mark Shriver's (D) unsuccessful primary race in Maryland's 8th District.

* Brad Todd and Curt Anderson -- partners in OnMessage Inc., a Republican consulting firm -- will head up the NRSC's IE program.  Anderson, along with his brother Wes, was in charge of the Republican National Committee's independent expenditure campaign on behalf of President Bush during the 2004 race.  The duo also managed Sen. Elizabeth Dole's (R-N.C.) campaign for the NRSC chairmanship, which she won by a single vote in late 2004.  Republicans familiar with the operation are careful to point out that while Todd and Anderson will lead the effort, a number of other consulting firms will also be involved.

* DCCC Executive Director John Lapp will leave his post this spring to head up the committee's independent expenditure operation. Karin Johanson, who is currently the DCCC political director, will take on a broader range of responsibilities in Lapp's absence.  Lapp ran Iowa for the Missouri Rep. Dick Gephardt's (D) 2004 presidential bid. Lapp also managed Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack's (D) 2002 reelection race. 

* The NRCC has not yet made a decision on who will lead its IE program.  During the 2004 cycle, however, current committee communications director Carl Forti headed up the effort. Prior to joining the NRCC, Forti spent five years as the director of political media operations for Wilson-Grand Communications -- a GOP media consulting shop.

By Chris Cillizza  |  February 8, 2006; 1:00 PM ET
Categories:  Democratic Party , Republican Party  
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