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Mark Warner Lands Another Top Campaign Recruit

Former Virginia Gov. Mark Warner continues to recruit top national operatives for his presidential campaign-in-waiting, inking Jonathan Epstein as a consultant to his Forward Together PAC.

Epstein has deep experience in presidential politics. He ran John Kerry's Citizen Solider Fund in 2002 and then served as Kerry's point person in Iowa, New Hampshire and California once the Massachusetts senator formally entered the 2004 presidential race. From August 2003 until January 2004, Epstein lived in Iowa, serving as campaign caucus director. Kerry, of course, won the Iowa caucuses, which propelled him to the 2004 nomination. In the general election Epstein served as Kerry's Midwest political director.

Until recently, Epstein was the manager of Martin O'Malley's gubernatorial campaign in Maryland.

Epstein is close to Jim Jordan, who recently agreed to serve as a consultant to Forward Together. When Jordan was executive director of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee during the 2000 cycle, Epstein served as deputy political director. Jordan was also one of the campaign managers for Kerry's 2004 presidential effort.

"I am helping Governor Warner in any way I can," said Epstein.

An Alabama native, Epstein said part of Warner's appeal is his ability to campaign anywhere in the country, especially in the South. Warner has done an "extraordinary job of helping candidates all across the country," Epstein said.

Warner has raised better than $8 million through Forward Together, doling it out to nearly every competitive House, Senate and gubernatorial race in the country.

Epstein would not say whether he had been approached to be part of a Kerry 2008 campaign, saying simply, "John Kerry is one of our country's greatest political servants. I wish him well."

Warner's circle of political advisers has been expanding lately. It now includes Monica Dixon, a former aide to Vice President Al Gore; longtime confidante Mame Reilly; communications director Ellen Qualls; media consultant Jim Margolis; pollster Geoff Garin; blog guru Jerome Armstrong; direct-mail consultant Hal Malchow; and Nicholas Perrins -- perhaps the person closest to Warner.

Doug Sosnik, a former Clinton administration official, is an informal adviser to Warner but not a part of the 2008 team. Sosnik has his hand in a number of other potential camps, including those of Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.) and Chris Dodd (Conn.), for whom he once served as chief of staff.

By Chris Cillizza  |  July 20, 2006; 12:52 PM ET
Categories:  Democratic Party , Eye on 2008  
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