NH01: Democratic newcomer O’Connor unveils lineup of heavy-hitter DC consultants

In the midst of a rapidly intensifying presidential primary campaign season, a potential Democratic 1st District congressional primary is shaping up.


Former Rep. Carol Shea-Porter last week emailed her supporters that she is looking at several options for the post-presidential primary election of 2016, and there is a draft effort underway for Executive Councilor Chris Pappas, who appears to be considering running for the seat if Shea-Porter does not.


The only candidate officially in the race so far is wealthy Bedford businessman Shawn O’Connor, a newcomer to New Hampshire Democratic politics. Today, he announced an 11-person team of consultants with lengthy resumes of involvement in national Democratic politics, almost all based in Washington, D.C.


According to O’Connor’s campaign, its senior advisor is Tom McMahon of New Partners, a former executive director of the Democratic National Committee and deputy campaign manager for Howard Dean’s 2004 presidential campaign.

J.B. Poersch and Julie Norton of the SKD Knickerbocker consulting firm in Washington are the campaign’s media consultants and communications strategists. Poersch is the former executive director of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and former chief of staff for U.S. Sen. Jack Reed. He is also a strategist for Sen. Harry Reid’s Senate Majority PAC. Norton is a former legislative affairs staffer in the Clinton administration and was on Dean’s presidential campaign.


O’Connor’s campaign said Pete Brodnitz and Mike Gehrke of Benenson Strategy Group will be the campaign’s polling firm, while Karen Finney, former Democratic National Committee communications director, is a “strategic consultant.”


Judith Wallner of The Strategy Group is the campaign’s direct mail consultant, while Rachel Hirschberg of Berger Hirschberg, former national fundraising director for Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, is the campaign’s fundraising consultant. Taryn Rosenkranz of New Blue Interactive heads the campaign’s digital strategy and overall fundraising effort, the campaign said.


Brady Moore, finance director for Massachusetts Rep. Seth Moulton’s 2014 campaign, will have the same role for O’Connor, while Ryan Long, who has worked in Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand’s campaign in New York among others, is a political assistant.


O’Connor even announced his campaign’s attorneys: Sandler Reiff Lamb Rosenstein & Birkenstock, P.C., of Washington, D.C.


Despite O’Connor’s impressive group of consultants, it remains to be seen if he can connect with the all-important base of New Hampshire Democratic activists, who have long known and supported Shea-Porter and Pappas.




 Shawn O’Connor

Author: John DiStaso

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