George Allen: Building a Team for '08
Virginia Sen. George Allen (R) is nearing a decision with major implications for the 2008 presidential primaries.
Allen is expected to decide by the end of the month on a media consulting firm that will be charged with helping him win reelection in 2006 and -- presumably -- with introducing the Virginia Senator to a national audience in 2007 and 2008 as he pursues the Republican presidential nomination.
The leading candidate, according to a two Washington-based strategists familiar with the deliberations, is Scott Howell & Company -- the hottest media consulting firm in the last few cycles on the Republican side. Led by principal Scott Howell, the firm handled the media strategy for Sen. John Thune's (R-S.D.) high-profile upset of Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D) as well as Sen. Jim DeMint's (R-S.C.) open-seat victory in 2004. In the 2002 cycle, Howell was the lead TV strategist for wins by now Sens. Saxby Chambliss (Ga.), Jim Talent (Mo.) and Norm Coleman (Minn.).
Allen and Howell got to know each other during the 2004 cycle when Allen served as chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee. On the staff level, too, there are a number of ties between Howell and Allen. The two most prominent are Dick Wadhams, who is Allen's chief of staff and was Thune's campaign manager in 2004, and Chris LaCivita, who was political director at the NRSC during the 2002 cycle and is a senior adviser to Allen.
The other firm in the mix is Stevens Reed Curcio & Potholm, which has been Allen's media consultant of choice in both his 1993 gubernatorial race and the 2000 Senate race. Greg Stevens, the partner in the firm who has handled Allen's account -- along with an assist from partner Rick Reed in 2000-- seems to already be spoken for when it comes to 2008. Stevens produced the ads for Arizona Sen. John McCain's (R) near-upset of George W. Bush in the 2000 primaries. It's no secret that McCain is gearing up for a 2008 bid. (For a full look at the competing interests of consulting firms when it comes to 2008, read a story I wrote for Roll Call.)
Allen allies insist that no final decision on a media consultant has been made. In November, Allen will likely battle Harris Miller (D), former head of a national technology industry trade association. Miller has personal financial resources to spare but remains a major underdog against Allen.
One other tidbit on Allen: In a hypothetical presidential face-off against former Virginia Gov. Mark Warner (D), Allen trails the popular ex-executive 49 percent to 32 percent among a random sample of 1,181 Virginia voters. The poll was conducted by the University of Virginia Center for Survey Research.
January 19, 2006; 12:32 PM ET
Categories: Eye on 2008 , Senate
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