Political Notebook: Bredesen names top U.S. Senate campaign staffers

Political Notebook: Bredesen names top U.S. Senate campaign staffers

January 28th, 2018 by Andy Sher in Local Regional News

Candidate Bredesen names top campaign staffers

Democratic U.S. Senate hopeful Phil Bredesen has announced members of his initial campaign team, relying on a number of Tennesseans who worked for him when the millionaire businessman ran and served as Tennessee governor. He's also added some new faces.

"I'm confident that, together, we can make a strong case to Tennesseans who want the Senate to get back to basics and who want to bring common sense to Washington," Bredesen said in a news release.

The list includes attorney and long-time Bredesen adviser Dick Lodge as finance chief over fundraising efforts, as well as Lodge's wife, Gina Lodge, a businesswoman and former state Human Services commissioner under Bredesen's gubernatorial administration, as campaign treasurer.

Other long-time Bredesen advisers include two of his former deputies while governor, businessman Stuart Brunson and public-affairs consultant Dave Cooley, who has been involved in Tennessee political campaigns for decades. Other advisers include long-time Bredesen friend and attorney Byron Trauger and Anna Durham Windrow, who works in government relations.

Another experienced hand, Bob Corney, who served as the Bredesen administration's communications director and who formerly worked for then-Vice President Al Gore, is campaign manager. Corney is taking leave from his job as senior vice president of the Calvert Street Group public-affairs firm in Nashville and has done corporate PR work for a number of national firms.

Steve Murphy, managing partner of MVAR Media, is heading up the campaign's TV, radio, print and digital advertising. Fred Yang, partner in the Garin-Hart-Yang Research Group, will handle polling and public-opinion research. Both have worked for Bredesen in the past.

The former governor also has recruited new talent, including Alfred Degrafinreid as deputy campaign manager. Degrafinreid is a former adviser to U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper, D-Tenn., and recently worked for Davidson County Criminal Court Clerk Howard Gentry. He named Andrew Adamski, who has worked in a number of campaigns including Nashville Mayor Megan Barry's successful 2015 effort, to oversee statewide get-out-the-vote efforts.

His Tennessee finance director is Brian Cordova, who most recently ran finance efforts for former U.S. Senate candidate James Mackler, who bowed out of the contest when Bredesen announced.

The campaign has also hired Laura Zapata, a Memphis native, as communications director. Zapata served as press secretary for Hillary Clinton's Ohio campaign, as well as communications director for U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-Texas, and former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. Most recently, she worked for ride-sharing company Uber.

His press secretary is Alyssa Hansen, a former TV reporter taking leave from her role as communications director of the Tennessee AFL-CIO Labor Council.

U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., and former U.S. Rep. Stephen Fincher, R-Tenn., are vying for the GOP nomination.

Marathoner, candidate Randy Boyd catches running magazine's interest

Running enthusiast and Republican gubernatorial hopeful Randy Boyd, who ran 537.3 miles in stages across the length of Tennessee, occupies the lead in a Runner's World magazine piece on, well, political candidates who are runners.

"Why Are So Many Runners Getting Into Politics?" asks the story's headline, accompanied by a photo of Boyd running.

"It seemed an appropriately eye-catching way for the 36-time marathoner (with a personal record of 3:37), who has also finished 50 half marathons, to distinguish himself in the field of eight declared candidates vying to win an election that is not until the fall," the story notes.

Other runner/candidates of various sorts cited in the article include Ian Golden, a trail runner and owner of a running store, who is seeking a U.S. House seat in New York and Dan Kohl, a marathoner running for Congress in Massachuesetts.

Controversial anti-Diane Black radio ad yanked, revised

The Tennessee Journal reported that three Nashville-area radio stations last week yanked an anti-Diane Black ad off the air under pressure from the Republican congresswoman's gubernatorial campaign. After some tinkering, the ad is now back on.

According to the political newsletter, it still features sounds of a man flushing money down a commode rather than let "dishonest Diane Black" get her hands on it. The Black camp was quoted as saying it is reviewing the new ads put out by what it calls a "shady outside group," the Tennessee Jobs Now PAC.

The Black campaign, meanwhile, has pointed a finger of blame over the "false attacks" at Boyd and his "out-of-state allies." Boyd's campaign denies having had anything to do with the attack.

Mackler PAC contributes to Bredesen, other U.S. Senate campaigns

James Mackler, the Nashville attorney and former Iraq war veteran who bowed out of the U.S. Senate race in deference to Bredesen, later created a political action committee, Believe in Service, which has now contributed $2,700 to Bredesen as seven other Democratic U.S. Senate incumbents and candidates running this year.

Mackler said in a news release his Believe in Service PAC also made contributions to re-election campaigns of incumbents U.S. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wisc.; U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio; U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla.; U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabanow, D-Mich. and U.S. Sen. John Tester, D-Mont., as well as the Senate campaigns of U.S. Sen. Jacky Rosen, D-Nev., and U.S. Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz.

"While the [GOP] majority in Washington prioritizes serving special interest donors over service to our nation, we need voices in the U.S. Senate that will protect and expand our vital national service programs like AmeriCorps that provide so many opportunities for service here and abroad," Mackler said.

Compiled by Andy Sher