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Jeb Bush super PAC looks to add top GOP strategists

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Several top GOP strategists are considering joining Right to Rise, the super PAC of likely presidential candidate Jeb Bush.

According to The Washington Post, a handful of select Republican Party operatives could be the nucleus of a well-funded group operating outside any official campaign, to promote Bush’s as-of-yet unannounced candidacy and tear down any challenges.

At the top of the list are expert Republican pollster Neil Newhouse and advertising pro Larry McCarthy, writes Post reporter Matea Gold.

Once Bush officially announces his campaign, sources say attorney Charlie Spies will continue to serve as counsel to the super PAC. Spies is the campaign finance expert behind the launch of both Bush’s super PAC and leadership PAC.

Still on the fence is longtime Bush strategist Mike Murphy, who has yet to decide whether to move to the new outside PAC organization or take a position on the official campaign. Murphy played a significant role in helping the former Florida governor staff the political team, as well as construct his economic policy message.

The New York Times reported earlier that Murphy was considering a position in the super PAC.

With blockbuster fundraising efforts so far, working on the super PAC – which can raise unlimited funds for media buys and other promotions — could be very lucrative, Gold says.

Bush has been aggressively recruiting donors for the organization, which legally can raise unlimited funds. The PAC is poised to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on television advertisements and other activities.

Since Bush has yet to be either a federal candidate or officeholder, he is able to coordinate with the super PAC and the staff overseeing both Bush political committees. Once he enters the race, though, the team must split between a campaign group and the super PAC staff. After that, any campaign staffers going to the super PAC have a 120-day waiting period before making the move.

However, there is no such restriction on the reverse — super PAC staff moving to the campaign.

Newhouse has longstanding political ties to the former governor, serving as a pollster for Bush’s Florida gubernatorial campaigns. As a co-founder of Public Opinion Strategies, Newhouse ran polls for Mitt Romney during the 2012 presidential effort. In 2014, he was involved in six winning Senate contests.

Although well respected by Republicans, Newhouse raised a few eyebrows with internal polls showing a better standing for Romney than public polling indicated, leading the campaign to believe Romney could defeat President Obama.

McCarthy has years of experience in super PACs, such as creating ads for Restore Our Future, which supported Romney as well as American Crossroads and Americans for Prosperity. He was also on the team of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s recent winning campaign.

As a co-founder of Restore Our Future, Spies helped raise more than $150 million in the 2012 election cycle. Spies also acted as chief financial officer and counsel for Romney in his 2008 presidential effort.  He also served as counsel to both the Republican National Committee and the Republican Governors Association.

Murphy, a partner at the Los Angeles-based Revolution Agency media firm, is a veteran of John McCain’s 2000 presidential campaign. He has worked on the California gubernatorial campaigns of Arnold Schwarzenegger, among others.

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Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding HRNewsDaily.com. His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for Patch.com, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at phil@floridapolitics.com and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.

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