Scott Walker Hires N.H. Advisers for Likely 2016 Bid
As he inches closer to launching his all-but-certain presidential campaign, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is staffing up in New Hampshire.
Walker’s political action committee (Our American Revival) has hired longtime New Hampshire GOP strategist Andy Leach as its senior adviser and out-of-state operative Michael Bir to spearhead day-to-day efforts in the first-in-the-nation primary state, according to two Republican sources.
Leach and Bir would transition to senior roles in leading his New Hampshire operation, if and when Walker becomes an official candidate.
Leach—a former executive director of the New Hampshire GOP with two decades of experience in presidential politics in the state—had been courted by other likely GOP 2016 contenders, including former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and South Carolina Sen. Lindsay Graham.
Bir will move to New Hampshire from his current home in the Midwest where he has served as the political director of the Michigan Republican Party since 2013. During the 2012 presidential campaign, he was the Ohio victory director for the Republican National Committee.
As a non-New Hampshire resident, Bir’s first task will be to introduce himself to the political class in the state and get to know the insular community of Republican activists and operatives here.
Walker’s New Hampshire hires come as he has also been gearing up in Iowa, the nation’s first voting state.
The Des Moines Register reported on Tuesday that Walker’s campaign-in-waiting is the first to have rented office space in Iowa for its expected headquarters there.
Though Walker had initially faced some skepticism about whether a perceived charisma deficiency would hinder his 2016 chances, the only incumbent governor to survive a recall election in American history was the big winner at the first gathering of likely GOP presidential hopefuls in Iowa last month.
Walker used his well-received speech at the Iowa Freedom Summit in Des Moines to surge toward the top of the pack in early polls of the hypothetical 2016 GOP field.
And in New Hampshire, he is now the narrow leader in the polls, according to the latest RealClearPolitics average of recent surveys.
Walker is slated to visit New Hampshire in March, his first trip of the 2016 cycle to the Granite State, where he will keynote a grassroots-training event for the state GOP in Concord.
In spite of his early momentum, the Wisconsin governor will face a discerning and often fickle New Hampshire primary electorate that at this point only knows him from afar.
Longtime New Hampshire GOP consultant Tom Rath summed up the challenge that Walker faces during an event in Washington last week, which commemorated the New Hampshire primary’s centennial year.
“There aren’t 10 people in New Hampshire who could pick him out of a line-up,” Rath said, according to U.S. News’ David Catanese.