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POLITICS: PennAve

RNC hires LinkedIn alumnus for new chief data officer post

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Republican Party,David M. Drucker,Campaigns,PennAve,Reince Priebus,Technology

The Republican National Committee has hired a veteran of the social networking website LinkedIn to serve as its new chief data officer as it continues to overhaul the GOP’s digital outreach and voter turnout operations ahead of the 2014 and 2016 elections.

Azarias Reda started with the RNC three weeks ago, and he joins Chief Technology Officer Andy Barkett, who was hired away from Facebook last year, in the GOP’s expanding digital operation. While Barkett’s responsibilities include building the infrastructure to capture and manipulate voter data and related information, Reda will focus on collecting and distributing that data in partnership with the RNC’s political department.

“Azarias’ background in computer science and experience working with start-ups makes him the best fit to build a data engineering team to lead our candidates to victories in 2014, 2016 and beyond,” RNC Chairman Reince Priebus said.

The RNC recently opened a satellite office in Silicon Valley to help attract computer industry talent, and an undisclosed number of the committee’s digital staffers are based in California. Barkett splits his time between the committee’s Washington, D.C., headquarters and Silicon Valley. Reda is based in Washington.

Hiring Reda is another step in the RNC’s strategy of upgrading its digital data collection and voter-turnout machinery in the aftermath of President Obama’s stinging 2012 re-election victory. Many Republicans credit the Obama campaign's digital data and get-out-the-vote operations with enabling the president to overcome an historically high unemployment rate and other political challenges to win a second term.

The RNC is looking to take the best of what Obama did and improve upon it. The GOP’s goal is to transform its national party committee from an operation that builds up and tears down around the presidential campaign every four years to one that is on perpetual campaign footing and is accessible not just to the GOP presidential nominee, but to any Republican candidate, running for any office anywhere in the country.

Other progress claimed by the RNC, according to information provided to the Washington Examiner: The party has hired digital directors to serve in states considered 2014 battlegrounds and is in the process of rolling out custom software so that state party affiliates and GOP campaigns can begin using the RNC’s digital improvements.

The RNC also says it has doubled its email file over the past six months, while acquiring more than 100,000 emails in the last two weeks alone through its new digital strategy.

According to a prepared biography, Reda, a native of Ethiopia, has three degrees, in computer science, applied mathematics and business administration. He also earned a Ph.D in computer science engineering from the University of Michigan.

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