Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has hired two seasoned strategists to head the New Hampshire operations of his pre-campaign leadership PAC, Our American Revival – and one of the two is very familiar to Granite State Republicans.
The New Hampshire Journal has learned that former two-time state Republican Party executive director Andy Leach is now a senior adviser for New Hampshire to Walker’s political action committee. Also on board to head New Hampshire day-to-day operations, is Michael Bir, who was most recently the political director of the Michigan Republican Party and was previously the 2010 and 2012 Ohio “Victory” program director for the Republican National Committee.
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker
The hirings, confirmed by Our American Revival on Tuesday night, come as Walker prepares a full-fledged effort in the Granite State if – as expected – he formally becomes a candidate for President. He has had strong showings, albeit in a very tightly packed Republican field, in recent New Hampshire polls. He trailed former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush 18 to 15 percent in a poll released on Sunday by NBC News and Marist; and he trailed Bush 16 to 12 percent in a poll released the prior week by Bloomberg Politics and Purple Strategies.
Walker is planning his first visit to the state since the fall of 2012 on March 14, as the featured speaker at a state Republican Party “2016 Grassroots Training” session at the New Hampshire Technical Institute. He will also host a breakfast with members of the state Republican Party executive committee.
Leach: A big “get”
The addition of Leach is a big “get” for the Walker organization due to his deep knowledge of, and long history in, New Hampshire Republican politics.
Leach left the post of outreach director in Sen. Kelly Ayotte’s office in January 2014 to start his own political consulting firm, LG Strategies, based in Manchester. He had been with Ayotte since she took office in January 2011. For the previous two years, during the 2010 election cycle, he was executive director the NHGOP while former Gov. John H. Sununu was chairman. The GOP that year won a U.S. Senate seat, both U.S. House seats, all five Executive Council seats, a 19-5 majority in the state Senate and 298 New Hampshire House seats. He was also party executive director in 2006, which was a strong Democratic year in New Hampshire and nationally.
In 2008, Leach was operations director for former Sen. John E. Sununu’s reelection campaign, and from late 2004 to early 2008 he was a community liaison in Sen. Sununu’s office.
The National Journal has described him as “one of the best nuts-and-bolts operatives” in the state. He began organizing grassroots efforts for campaigns in 1992 and has been involved in campaigns at all levels since then. He helped current NHGOP chair Jennifer Horn win her first term in the post and remained as an adviser.
In the 2014 midterm cycle, Leach was a senior adviser to Scott Brown’s U.S. Senate campaign and was credited with creating Brown’s “Main Streets and Living Rooms” tour that began his campaign with stops in all 10 counties.
Among the other campaigns he has been involved in are Mitt Romney in 2012, Ayotte in 2010, former Sen. Gordon Humphrey’s gubernatorial campaigns in 2002 and 2000, Michael Chema’s congressional campaign in 2001, and Dole for President in 1996, as college youth director.
Bir has a reputation as a strong grassroots field organizer. In Ohio in 2012, he was credited with overseeing the recruitment of more than 140 Victory employees and a budget of more than $3 million that resulted in more than 8.4 million voter contacts. His responsibilities also included coordinating the in-state campaign activities of the presidential, U.S. Senate, congressional, state legislature and down ballot campaigns. In Michigan he over saw what was called the largest field program in that state’s history.
Leach and Bir become the latest in a rapid-fire series of hires by likely GOP presidential candidates in the first-primary state. Last week, GOP operative and lobbyist Rich Killion signed on as the New Hampshire director for former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush’s PAC and former Mitt Romney state director and adviser Jim Merrill became senior adviser for New Hampshire and the Northeast for Florida Sen. Marco Rubio’s Reclaim America.
At the end of January, Matt Mowers stepped down as NHGOP executive director and then returned to the fold for New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie to head New Hampshire operations for his Leadership Matters for America PAC. Last year, then-Texas Gov. Rick Perry hired Mike Dennehy as the New Hampshire adviser to his Americans for Economic Freedom and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul hired Mike Biundo as his RANDPAC’s chief strategist for the state.
Walker earlier this year brought on a team of well-known operatives, headed by former RNC political director Rick Wiley, to staff his PAC’s national operations.