Scoop: Gov. Hogan Hires Campaign Manager and General Consultant
By Josh Kurtz
Gov. Larry Hogan (R) has hired a campaign manager and a general consultant for his 2018 re-election bid, Maryland Matters has learned.
The campaign manager, Ryan Reynolds, comes directly from Hogan’s long-time polling firm, Washington, D.C-based WPA Intelligence. He started full-time work for the Hogan campaign last week.
The general consultant, Jim Barnett, specializes in aiding Republicans campaigning in Democratic-leaning states. He began work this week.
Reynolds until earlier this month was a senior vice president for WPA Intelligence. A native of Georgia, Reynolds has worked on campaigns in his home state and in Colorado, Kansas, New Jersey and South Carolina.
He was campaign manager for Kansas Rep. Kevin Yoder’s re-election bid in 2014, and was field director for South Carolina Rep. Mark Sanford as the former South Carolina governor was making a successful political comeback in a 2013 special election.
Reynolds has also been a senior adviser to West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, a leading critic of former President Obama’s environmental agenda who is likely to run for U.S. Senate next year.
Barnett has had a peripatetic career, but has largely thrived working on campaigns in New England – where Republicans frequently encounter challenging political environments.
He was a central part of Sen. John McCain’s team in New England during the 2008 election cycle, as McCain successfully sought his party’s presidential nomination. He later served as campaign manager for Rob Simmons, a former moderate Republican congressman from Connecticut who ran unsuccessfully for his party’s Senate nod in 2010.
In 2012, Barnett helmed the re-election campaign of then-Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.), who had stunned the political world by winning an early 2010 special election to replace the late Sen. Ted Kennedy (D). Brown lost the 2012 election to Elizabeth Warren by 8 points, as Obama was winning the state by 23 points.
In the early and mid-2000s, Barnett was chairman of the Vermont Republican Party and a top aide to then-Gov. Jim Douglas (R), whose campaign he had worked for. He also worked for the George W. Bush White House, where he counted Karl Rove as a mentor, according to a 2012 Huffington Post article.
From 2013-2015, Barnett served as vice president of political affairs for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Institute of Legal Reform. More recently, he has been the chief operating officer at Definers Public Affairs, a firm in Arlington, Va. He is expected to keep some affiliation with that firm, even as he transitions to consulting for the Hogan campaign.
Barnett did not respond to a phone message left at Definers Public Affairs on Tuesday. Reynolds did not respond to an email.
Hogan already had a handful of staffers on his campaign payroll between mid-January of 2016 and mid-January this year, according to campaign finance statements. During that period, Reynolds’ polling firm, WPA Intelligence, was a top Hogan vendor, collecting about $93,000 for the year.
Two other consulting firms received big paychecks from Hogan during the January 2016-January 2017 reporting period: Red Maverick Media, based in Harrisburg, Pa., and Rivet Strategies, based in Washington, D.C.