Sam Brownback's Inner Circle
With the 2008 campaign unfolding faster than even The Fix imagined, it's time to roll out a new feature: The Inner Circle.
The Inner Circle will look at the political advisers closest to each of the candidates (declared or likely) for the 2008 nomination -- the Svengalis and experts personally charged with raising the money, crafting the message and managing the campaign infrastructure needed to elect the next president of the United States.
While no candidate wins because he (or she) has the best senior staff, the importance of installing skilled and loyal people in the top jobs is an essential part of any winning campaign. Take George W. Bush's first White House run: He placed Karl Rove, Karen Hughes and Joe Allbaugh -- three longtime associates -- in key staff roles for the 2000 campaign. Known collectively as the "Iron Triangle" for the unbreakable bonds between each of them and the candidate, Rove, Hughes and Allbaugh set an example of the way the campaign would be conducted from top to bottom.
Each of the candidates in the 2008 field will rely on a similar small group to advise them on day-to-day strategy as well as long-term messaging and positioning. The advice dispensed and the loyalty shown to the candidate will be essential in divining who will emerge as the standardbearer in each party.
Unlike many aspiring presidential candidates, Brownback has a relatively small group of close advisers. Some of that size is dictated by the fact that he hasn't had a serious race since 1996 and some of it is because he largely keeps his own counsel on political matters.
Without further ado, the Brownback Inner Circle:
* David Kensinger: Kensinger has been with Brownback since his first race -- for the House in 1994. Kensinger served as Brownback's chief of staff for a time and has also done stints at Wirthlin Worldwide, a Republican polling firm, and as executive director at GOPAC. He now has his own consulting firm based in Topeka.
* Rob Wasinger: Brownback's current chief of staff, Wasinger is moving over to help lead the presidential exploratory committee. Wasinger has been with Brownback for a decade, serving a variety of roles including understudy to Kensinger. Wasinger also worked for former Kansas Gov. Bill Graves (R) and Rep. Jerry Moran (R).
* Paul Wilson: Wilson is a partner in the media consulting firm of Wilson Grand Communications, which has long handled Brownback's television advertising. The firm has also done work for Kansas Sen. Pat Roberts and, more recently, the ill-fated Senate bid of Rep. Katherine Harris in Florida.
* Tom Monaghan: The founder of Domino's Pizza, Monaghan is a major force within the evangelical movement. He was one of a handful of supporters named to Brownback's exploratory advisory committee and will likely play a lead role in the fundraising operation that the senator will put in place for a national race.
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