By Theodore Schleifer on January 28, 2015 at 10:48 AM
The eleven-month race for mayor is expected to be the most competitive contest in decades, so a top-flight campaign team can make the difference between advancing to a run-off and just falling short.
Each candidate has ramped up staffing ever since a federal judge cleared the way for campaign fundraising, and the names recruited are a mix of old Houston political hands and national consultants eyeing another victory to tout.
Here’s who the announced candidates has hired to advise them:
Grant Martin, general consultant: Annise Parker’s longtime political strategist, Martin is based in San Francisco, but continues to advise local campaigns, like Kim Ogg’s bid last year for district attorney.
Pat Strong, fundraiser: Strong helped Turner end 2014 with $1 million in the bank, a haul that Turner controversially plans to transfer to a future mayoral account.
Sue Davis, communications and political director: A former reporter, Davis ran the press shop on Parker’s last three campaigns.
Bill Hyers, general consultant: Hyers is a New York-based strategist who gained national attention after leading Bill de Blasio to a come-from-behind win in New York’s mayoral race in 2013.
Pat Devney, campaign manager: Devney most recently managed Ann McLane Kuster’s successful reelection campaign for Congress in New Hampshire.
Maryann Young, policy director: Young worked with Bell as a reporter at KTRH, ran for City Council in 1999 and was later director of communications for Houston City Controller George Greanias.
Zach Brigham, fundraising director: Brigham most recently managed the campaign of Democratic comptroller candidate Mike Collier and previously fundraised for the Harris County Democratic Party.
Jef Pollock, pollster: Pollock is the president of Global Strategy Group, a New York-firm.
Robert Jara, campaign manager: Jara is a Democratic consultant with an expertise in targeting who has worked on Houston races since the 1980s.
Chris Begala, senior communications adviser: Begala has strong ties to the sports world, beginning his career as a sports reporter and representing many teams and stadium bond campaigns.
Jim McGrath, spokesman: Begala’s business partner, McGrath is George H.W. Bush’s post-White House spokesman and speechwriter.
Sue Walden, finance director: Walden is a longtime Houston fundraiser and has raised cash for mayors Lanier, Brown and Parker.
Kelly Randall, fundraiser: Randall has raised money for local and congressional races and will work under Walden.
David Polyansky, general consultant: Polyansky consults for Republican candidates across the country, most recently advising new Iowa U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst and now working with possible 2016 presidential candidate Scott Walker.
Ward Curtin, campaign manager: Curtin served as deputy campaign manager on all three of Parker’s races and now moves to a campaign’s top day-to-day role.
Kim Jessup, senior consultant: Jessup works with Polyansky at their firm, New Strategies Group, and has consulted on all of Costello’s city council runs.
James Cardona, fundraiser: Cardona led the fundraising effort for Parker’s mayoral races and helped raise cash for Leticia van de Putte’s bid for lieutenant governor.
Justin Jordan, general consultant: Jordan is the only announced hire on Hall’s campaign and specializes in targeting minority voters.
Sarah Pennington Tropoli, campaign director: Pennington’s daughter, Tropoli, has long advised her father’s campaigns.
Jeff Yates, general consultant: Yates is a former executive director of the Harris County Republican Party and is now a direct mail and telemarketing consultant to campaigns.
Marc Cowart, campaign manager: Cowart is also a former HCRP executive director and has worked on all of Pennington’s City Council races.
Elizabeth Blakemore, fundraiser: Blakemore has numerous Republican clients and raised money for District Attorney Devon Anderson during the 2014 campaign.
Vincent Harris, online marketing and social media: Harris, lauded in Bloomberg as “the man who invented the Republican internet,” helped Dan Patrick and Ted Cruz with their digital campaigns.
Spencer Neumann, direct mail: Neumann runs one of the leading GOP direct mail shops in Harris County.
Whitney Bowles Allen, coalitions director: Allen has worked for state House candidate Pam Holm and city controller candidate Bill Frazer.
Navid Zanjani, campaign manager: Once the executive director of the Harris County Democratic Party, Zanjani leads McVey’s effort.
Melissa Noriega, adviser: Noriega sat on City Council from 2007 to 2013 before hitting term limits.
Jamie Wright, communications adviser: Wright comes from a corporate public relations background, having represented clients like Coca-Cola.
Bill Millar, communications: A freelance business writer, Millar is Ferreira’s only current hire
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