The National Republican Senatorial Committee will announce Tuesday it has assembled its senior staff for the 2014 elections, tapping operatives who served in the inner circles of former GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor.
Ward Baker, a senior Romney advisor who served as the campaign’s liaison with the Republican National Committee last year, will be the new NRSC political director. Brad Dayspring, an aggressive strategist and former top Cantor advisor, will be the group’s new communications director.
They arrive after a disappointing 2012 election cycle in which Republicans lost a net of two seats in the Senate despite a political landscape that initially appeared to favor the GOP.
The new hires are the picks of Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., the new NRSC chairman, and his new executive director, Rob Collins.
“Senate Republicans are already on offense in a range of key races across the country and our experienced team at the NRSC stands ready to help our party capitalize on those opportunities,” Moran said in a statement provided to National Journal.
The hiring of Dayspring, who most recently served as an adviser to YG Action Fund, a super PAC run by fellow former Cantor folks, means that two of the top officials at the NRSC will be Cantor veterans. Collins, like Dayspring, was once a top aide to Cantor on the Hill.
The new staff hires come just as the 2014 landscape is beginning to take shape. In the last week, Republican Sen. Saxby Chambliss of Georgia and Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin of Iowa both announced they would retire rather than seek reelection. Democratic Sen. Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia previously said he wouldn’t run again.
Democrats must defend more vulnerable seats than Republicans next year, but the same was true in 2012 and they still gained ground. One of the chief challenges for the NRSC in 2014 will be ensuring that the party puts forward strong, electable nominees. In numerous states, the party confronts the possibility of hard-right candidates that could complicate the path toward victory.
To aid in raising money for the effort, Moran is bringing aboard Shelly Carson, a fundraising veteran who has loosened donors’ wallets for both a tea party favorite – as a top fundraiser for Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., in 2004 – and for Romney’s 2008 presidential bid. She will be the NRSC’s new finance director.
Kevin McLaughlin, a GOP strategist who consulted for Senate Republicans in numerous states in 2012, has signed on as a senior adviser. McLaughlin has close ties to the Senate Republican leadership structure as the former communications director for Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, who previously chaired the NRSC.
The NRSC is also promoting Mark McLaughlin, who has been with the GOP campaign arm for two election cycles, to research director. He was deputy research director in 2012. Megan Sowards will be the NRSC’s new general counsel. She was a deputy general counsel on the Romney campaign.