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POLITICS: PennAve

Ted Cruz builds team for 2016

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Politics,Iowa,South Carolina,Texas,2016 Elections,David M. Drucker,Ted Cruz,Campaigns,PennAve,Rick Perry,Mike Huckabee

Sen. Ted Cruz is expanding his political operation, a move sure to stoke speculation that the Texas Republican plans to run for president in 2016.

In recent weeks, the Cruz team signed contracts with three Republican consultants with national experience and ties to some of the early presidential primary states.

Cruz has cultivated a national following and traveled to the early primary states often since winning his Senate seat in 2012. Yet his political team was relatively small and oriented almost exclusively toward Texas.

To help the Tea Party-affiliated senator manage his role as a national leader and prepare for a possible White House run, his political shop has added Jason Miller as a digital and communications advisor, Jeff Roe to offer organizational guidance and help run Cruz’ more nationally focused operation and Lauren Lofstrom to handle national fundraising.

The Cruz team is talking to other Republican operatives about signing on, but agreements have not been finalized. Meanwhile, the existing key players in Cruz world, including pollster WPA Opinion Research, and chief political advisor Jason Johnson, who is based in Texas, remain in place.

“Turning the country around is only possible by actively engaging and mobilizing millions of Americans,” Johnson told the Washington Examiner on Thursday during a telephone interview. “Harnessing the energy of the millions of Americans who want to bring accountability to Washington requires additional manpower so we are excited to have new talented hands on deck as we build a grassroots army outside the Beltway to change what's happening within.”

Cruz’s effort to expand his political operation was underway at least as far back as the spring.

The new hires, which have been announced internally but had not been previously publicized, have joined Team Cruz as contracted consultants. They will be paid through the senator’s Senate re-election committee and his political action committee.

They add some heft to a political shop that has lagged behind Cruz’ travel schedule and political profile, both in terms of personnel to handle the work and ability to provide strategic counsel.

Miller, a partner with Jamestown Associates, a firm that has advised other Tea Party Republicans, has worked in South Carolina, home of the third nominating contest on the presidential primary calendar and the first that is held in the South. Miller is based in Washington, D.C., but maintains a wealth of connections to prominent Republican activists and GOP operatives in the Palmetto State.

Roe, the founder of Axiom Strategies, previously advised the presidential campaigns of Texas Gov. Rick Perry and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee. Roe has particular experience working in Iowa. According to Roe’s professional biography on Axiom’s website, he “has run 56 races in the first 11 presidential primary states.” Roe, who is based in Kansas City, Mo., also has Capitol Hill experience, having served as chief of staff to Rep. Sam Graves, R-Mo.

Lofstrom was a top fundraising consultant for Perry’s 2012 presidential bid and is a veteran of the Republican Governors Association, allowing her to establish relationships with the kind of major donors that can help fuel a White House bid. Lofstrom, who is based in Washington, D.C., previously worked for then-Sen. Gordon Smith, R-Ore., and has experience working a number of campaigns, mainly in Washington state.

Republican operatives close to Cruz concede that these hires will fan talk of a presidential run. But they stressed that growing his political team and adding advisors with national experience were necessary for a senator who wants to influence the debate, regardless of whether he runs for president.

“We have to build out his political operation to put him in a better position to lead,” one Republican said. “There’s a desire for leadership, he’s out there doing his part and we have to build an organization to support it.”

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Author:

David M. Drucker

Senior Congressional Correspondent
The Washington Examiner

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