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Vilsack Adds Some PR Talent

Word is leaking out from Iowa Democratic sources that Governor Tom Vilsack (D), a potential 2008 presidential candidate, is likely to hire Rodell Mollineau as his new communications director.

Mollineau has been with Sen. Mark Pryor (D) since 2002, when Pryor defeated Sen. Tim Hutchinson (R) in one of the few bright spots for Democrats in an otherwise dismal mid-term election. Mollineau got his start in Democratic politics with then-South Dakota Sen. Tom Daschle, where he helped handle press. Mollineau went from Daschle's office to Pryor's campaign.

The hiring of Mollineau should be seen through the 2008 prism, as the Iowa governor is entering his final year in office when the hiring of high-profile staff is rarely a priority. Vilsack is actively raising money through his Heartland PAC, which is registered as a 527 committee with the Internal Revenue Service. Vilsack has also been conducting online policy forums.

Beyond Vilsack, the race for campaign talent has been underway for better than a year now.  Many of the leading Democrats have already begun to put their teams in place -- including those unique individuals charged with handling press relations. Among the moves by potential Democratic candidates:

* New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) named Lorraine Voles as her new communications director late last year, widely seen as a move designed to strengthen her 2008 press team.

* Indiana Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.) brought in Dan Pfeiffer, who served as deputy campaign manager for Daschle's 2004 loss, to serve as his communications director and help position him for 2008.

* Outgoing Virginia Gov. Mark Warner (D) recruited former Gore political director Monica Dixon to handle his Forward Together political action committee and seems likely to retain the services of his current spokeswoman -- Ellen Qualls -- as he prepares to run for president.

* Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) has Jenny Backus, a longtime party operative, handling press for his Keeping America's Promise PAC, while former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards has kept 2004 spokeswoman Kim Rubey on the staff of his One America Committee to watch out for his interests in 2008.

For more on the chase for 2008 talent, read a story I wrote on it during my days at Roll Call.

Are we missing other potential 2008 Democrats who had made staffing moves of late? If so, post in the comments section below.

By Chris Cillizza  |  January 3, 2006; 1:54 PM ET
Categories:  Eye on 2008  
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When John Kerry ran for Pres., I sent many msgs to Kerry to downgrade his campaign leader,Monica Dixon, I suppose. If true, then Mark Warner can go fishing.

Posted by: almon collins | January 4, 2006 5:11 PM | Report abuse

>>>Where is Whouley? The rest is just commentary.

True dat. Whouley's got split loyalties though. He was Clinton pre-nomination in '92. He's known Kerry since the early 80s. Then, he could be holding out for Gore redux.

Posted by: kid_rocka | January 3, 2006 7:03 PM | Report abuse

Where is Whouley? The rest is just commentary.

Posted by: Josh | January 3, 2006 6:16 PM | Report abuse

Doesn't Vilsack sort of churn through comm directors?

Also, doesn't Hillary have Howard Wolfson and Jim Kennedy onboard as communications strategists as well?

Kerry still has David Wade as part of his team, right?

Isn't Obama media consultant David Wilhelm onboard with Biden?

If I recall correctly, Warner has also lined up media consultant Jim Margolis for '08, too.

Anyone know where Teresa Vilmain is headed? Does she go with Vilsack or Feingold?

Posted by: kid_rocka | January 3, 2006 5:25 PM | Report abuse

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