Williams hires new campaign manager from Rubio's office; Jennings shifts roles

05/24/2011 09:23 AM

Republican candidate for governor David Williams is bringing in the former political director for the campaign of Florida U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio to handle the operations of his fall campaign.

Scott Jennings, who had served as campaign manager, will shift into a general consultant and advisory role.

Luke B. Marchant will handle day-to-day operations of the campaign for Williams and his running mate, Agriculture Commissioner Richie Farmer.

Marchant, who is originally from Texas, has served as intergovernmental affairs liaison for Rubio’s office after working as his campaign’s political director during the 2010 race.

The move comes a week after Williams won the three-way Republican primary for governor with 48% of the vote in a low-turnout race.

Republican leaders have downplayed the significance of Williams garnering less than 50% of support against two candidates with far less resources. One of Williams’ rivals, Louisville businessman Phil Moffett, defeated Williams in the most populous areas of the state largely because of strong support from the tea party.

Jennings said Marchant brings experience from a campaign that successfully harnessed tea party activism last year.

“We’re bringing in someone from Marco Rubio’s world, who is obviously a tea party favorite. That shows that this is a guy who has the ability to deal with tea party volunteers and activists,” Jennings said.

Jennings said this is “a natural expansion” after a successful primary campaign and the first of several additional hires. For instance, the campaign could bring on a full-time communications director, he said.

Marchant will focus on coordinating grassroots activists, get-out-the-vote efforts, and volunteers, while Jennings will serve as general consultant and senior adviser, Jennings said.

“In my case, what I do best is think about messaging, communications and policy and strategy,” he said.

Jennings has served as campaign manager for Williams and Farmer since the ticket announced on Sept. 1, 2010.

Since then, the campaign has paid Jennings a total of $74,452 as of the most recent campaign finance report from May 1.

He said the general election budget hasn’t been finalized and he and the Williams/Farmer campaign hasn’t set the amount for his consulting contract for the fall.

Marchant, reached in Washington, referred questions to Jennings.

“It all looks green lighted,” he said. “I called Scott late last night” to accept the offer.

Before joining Rubio’s successful 2010 campaign, Marchant briefly served as political director for Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott in late 2009.

Marchant has experience as a congressional aide in addition to his political background. He served as outreach coordinator and communications director for Republican U.S. Rep. Pete Olson of Texas in 2009. Marchant managed Olson’s 2008 campaign.

Before that, Marchant served in the office of Texas Republican U.S. Sen. John Cornyn from 2003 through 2004 as a staff assistant and legislative correspondent.

He got his start as Cornyn’s driver, according to a Dallas Morning News article from 2004. His father, Kenny Marchant, served as Republican floor leader of Texas state House before being elected to Congress in 2004.

- Ryan Alessi

About Ryan Alessi

Ryan Alessi joined cn|2 in May 2010 as senior managing editor and host of Pure Politics. He has covered politics for more than 10 years, including 7 years as a reporter for the Lexington Herald-Leader. Follow Ryan on Twitter @cn2Alessi. Ryan can be reached at 502-792-1135 or ryan.alessi@twcnews.com.


  • Bruce Layne wrote on May 25, 2011 12:38 PM :

    This is yet another in a long string of the establishment GOP not understanding the TEA Party, and in fact, they’re apparently incapable of understanding the TEA Party.

    I imagine their internal conversation as, “We didn’t get the TEA Party support we need. Moffett won’t deliver the TEA Party vote. Rubio had the TEA Party. Let’s buy his TEA Party guy.”

    Phil Moffett has tried in vain to explain that he can’t deliver the TEA Party vote even if he wanted to, because the TEA Party supports candidates based on their alignment with the TEA Party principles. TEA is an acronym for Taxed Enough Already, and after David Williams 25 year history of taxing, borrowing and spending Kentucky into debt, there is no way he’s going to become the darling of the TEA Party. He can’t buy it. He can’t lie his way into it. It’s not going to happen. He and most of the other GOP insiders are fundamentally incapable of understanding support based on a principle or philosophy. The political motivations they understand are glad handing, political favors, partisan blindness, and fear.

    Besides, after Rubio’s short tenure in the US Senate, the TEA Party has realized that he’s not a TEA Party guy. Maybe Marchant was largely responsible for selling Rubio to the Florida TEA Party, but whoever it was, the TEA Party isn’t buying it any more, and hiring Marchant to sell Williams to the Kentucky TEA Party is more money wasted by the Williams campaign. Williams has a long history of wasting our tax dollars, so why should we expect fiscal conservatism from his gubernatorial campaign?

    November gubernatorial prediction: A stronger showing by Gatewood Galbraith than predicted (ala Moffett) and a decisive win for do-nothing Beshear.

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