Hillary Clinton's Iowa campaign team taking shape

As former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton prepares to formally launch her presidential campaign later this month, her team continues to hire capable staff who are well-known to Iowa Democratic activists.

The Des Moines Register’s Jennifer Jacobs reported yesterday that Troy Price will have a senior position in Clinton’s Iowa campaign. Price recently left the Iowa Democratic Party after a little more than two years as executive director. Before that, he worked for Governors Tom Vilsack and Chet Culver, served as executive director of the LGBT advocacy group One Iowa, and was the political director for President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign in Iowa.

Last month, Philip Rucker and Dan Balz reported for the Washington Post on other major Clinton hires.

Matt Paul, an operative with more than two decades of political experience in Iowa, will return to the Hawkeye State to oversee Clinton’s campaign for the first-in-the-nation caucuses, said the Democrats, who requested anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the move.

A senior adviser to Vilsack since his 1998 gubernatorial campaign, Paul currently serves as director of communications at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Paul announced his resignation on Wednesday and plans to depart by the end of March, said a USDA official, who requested anonymity to speak about Paul’s plans.

Other experienced Democratic operatives are in serious discussions to join Paul on the likely Clinton Iowa campaign staff.

Lily Adams, currently deputy communications director at the Democratic National Committee and a former aide on Sen. Tim Kaine’s 2012 campaign in Virginia, is poised to fill a top Iowa communications job for Clinton, according to a person familiar with the discussions.

Brenda Kole, who served as a senior adviser on Jack Hatch’s Iowa gubernatorial campaign in 2014 and before that was director of advocacy and organizing for Planned Parenthood of the Heartland, is slated to take a top political role on the Iowa team, the source said.

Kole ran Monica Vernon’s campaign for the 2014 Democratic primary in IA-01.

According to Jacobs, Molly Schermann will be Clinton’s deputy state director in Iowa.

Jonathan Martin reported for the New York Times last week on Clinton’s hire of Michael Halle, her likely caucus director:

Mrs. Clinton has dispatched Michael Halle, formerly a top adviser to Gov. Terry McAuliffe of Virginia, to the state that starts the 2016 presidential nominating contest to develop and help execute her strategy there Mr. Halle, who is expected to ultimately serve in a senior role in Mrs. Clinton’s political department, will be based in Iowa through the caucuses.

He is close with Robby Mook, Mrs. Clinton’s campaign manager, who ran Mr. McAuliffe’s race for governor in 2013. They are part of a small cadre of staff members from that campaign planning to work for Mrs. Clinton. Mr. McAuliffe, of course, is a longtime Clinton loyalist who served as Mrs. Clinton’s campaign chairman in her 2008 run for the presidency. […]

Mr. Halle worked for President Obama’s Iowa operation leading to the then-Illinois senator’s decisive victory in the 2008 caucuses, which dealt a devastating blow to Mrs. Clinton’s campaign.

Jason Noble reported that Halle has unusually deep political experience in Iowa’s second-largest city.

In addition to working on President Barack Obama’s first caucus campaign in 2007 and 2008, Halle returned to Iowa in 2009 to run an even more intimate contest: a local option sales tax campaign in post-flood Cedar Rapids.

Halle’s strategy targeted narrow slices of the city electorate and peppered them with robocalls, mailers and knocks on the door, according to a 2009 story from the Cedar Rapids Gazette – resulting in an election night victory and a granular understanding of politics in Iowa’s second-largest city.

The Clinton campaign will reportedly hire approximately 40 field staffers this spring to start identifying and mobilizing supporters.

No word yet on whether Jackie Norris and Teresa Vilmain, who have both worked with the Ready for Hillary PAC, will have any formal role in Clinton’s upcoming campaign.

My advice for the Clinton team: Make sure rank-and-file Democrats are not only tolerated but truly welcomed at Clinton events (both public rallies and behind the scenes organizing). I’ve seen some grumbling on social media from hard-core Democratic activists who were not invited to last week’s meetings with senior Clinton operatives in Des Moines, Iowa City, and Cedar Rapids. As this year’s campaign unfolds, some people will be ready to pounce on any evidence that Clinton is running a top-down, elitist operation in Iowa.  

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  • Kole

    I have little faith in Brenda Kole. Those two campaigns were not what they could have been, and Heartland PP’s advocacy in recent years has been equally unimpressive.