PoliticsPA asked the top politicos from around the Commonwealth, “If you were building your political team from scratch, who would you want on it?” We were not looking for power lobbyists, paid media magicians or rainmaking fundraisers. We wanted to know who are the people you want on your campaign team when the job needs to get done.
The following lists are the Top Republican and Democrats operatives that were most mentioned.
Top Republican Operatives:
Brian Nutt – He was a big reason why Governor-elect Corbett continued the eight year cycle of party shifts in the Governor’s office. He was rewarded with Chief of Staff for his stalwart performance.
Mike Long – His record of holding solid majorities in the PA Senate was enough to make this list but his victorious congressional candidates Kelly and Marino add to his already impressive resume.
Vince Galko – Few operatives are as knowledgeable and well-respected. Corbett, Cawley, Toomey, Barletta and Meehan all had him on their payrolls this cycle for good reason.
Mark Harris – He ran one of the most focused and professional campaigns in PA history and got a very conservative candidate elected to U.S. Senate in a very moderate state.
Chad Weaver – He was already one of the most well-liked people in the business. His efforts to bring back the majority to the PA House only increased his value.
David James – His expertise in putting a plan together combined with his national connections make him a key advisor to any serious candidate.
Luke Bernstein – It takes a special breed of person to run the state GOP for four years. He was tested throughout his tenure and he did a great job.
Chris Nicholas – The veteran GOP consultant added four notches to his belt this cycle, coordinating nearly a million dollars of independent expenditures into TV and radio for Dent and Gerlach, and direct mail for Kelly and Meehan.
Christine Thomas – The former Finance Director for the PA Republican Party has parlayed her experience and network into an impressive career. The trust placed in her by the PA Senate Majority Leader validates it.
Jim Schultz – Pat Meehan’s right hand man in the U.S. Attorney’s office and then on Pat’s campaigns. He will no doubt play a big part in Meehan’s career going forward. He has a good reputation among SEPA power players and GOP activists.
Top Democratic Operatives:
Mary Isenhour – She has seen the ups as head of the state Democrat Party in 2008 and the lows and the lows as a consultant in 2010 and through it all she has been a professional.
Kevin Washo – Close adviser to U.S. Senator Bob Casey and interim ED at the state party. He is go to guy for PA Democrats.
Virginia Doherty McGregor – Quite a few Democrats and Republicans have sought her advice and help over the years.
Dan Fee – He made his bones on Philadelphia elections before his star soared statewide. He is a very bright guy to have on your team.
Brad Koplinski – He makes the trains run on time, having managed either finances or political outreach for Kerry, Clinton, Obama, Specter, HDCC and the state party. He was the architect behind Senator Specter’s State Committee endorsement.
Rachel Heisler – She ran Congressman Jason Altmire’s campaign and raised his money. Altmire had a bulls-eye on his back at the start of the year and by the end he was not even mentioned as endangered.
Brigid Sullivan – She runs the Allegheny Democrat Committee very well and her fundraising network in SWPA is a helpful asset to candidates.
Sandi Vito – She does it all and everyone knows her. Her close ties to outgoing Governor Rendell won’t diminish her ability to be a persuasive operative if she chooses to be one.
James Vaughn – As Government Relations Director at PSEA, he knew 2010 would be a tough year, nevertheless his team still sent some of the hardest hitting statements and direct mail on their GOP opponents.