Election 2018
Giunchigliani hires campaign team to guide, bolster her bid for governor
Jackie Valley
Clark County Commissioner Chris Giunchigliani greets supporters during her announcement to enter the Nevada gubernatorial race on Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2017. Photo by Jeff Scheid/The Nevada Independent.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Chris Giunchigliani has unveiled an experienced campaign team, signaling her seriousness despite largely relying on a grassroots approach to win the state’s top political race.

Giunchigliani has hired political operative Eric Hyers — who most recently helped Montana’s Democratic governor win re-election despite being outspent by his Republican competitor — as her campaign manager.

Hyers is one of two salaried staff members who will steer Giunchigliani’s bid to go from Clark County commissioner to governor. The other is Jenny Lehner, an experienced fundraiser who will serve as her campaign’s finance director.

Hyers started as a field organizer on New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand’s first congressional campaign and has gone on to manage a variety of political campaigns and organizations in other states. He managed Rhode Island Rep. David Cicilline’s two campaigns for Congress — the second of which involved a come-from-behind victory after trailing his opponent by more than 15 points and being named one of the country’s most vulnerable incumbents.

Last year, he managed Montana Gov. Steve Bullock’s re-election campaign. Bullock won by 4 points in a state that elected President Donald Trump by more than 20 points.

Lehner, meanwhile, has 17 years of fundraising experience. She previously served as finance director for the campaigns of former Minnesota Sen. Paul Wellstone, former Georgia Rep. Denise Majette, current Montana Sen. Jon Tester and Ohio’s former lieutenant governor, Lee Fisher. She also worked as the Midwest finance director for Vermont Gov. Howard Dean’s presidential campaign and as a consultant for various political action committees and nonprofits. She moved to Nevada in 2014 to work for Strategies 360.

Giunchigliani also is employing a pollster and several media consultants on a fee-for-service basis.

Pete Brodnitz, formerly a partner in the powerful Benenson Strategy Group, will conduct polling for Giunchigliani’s campaign. Brodnitz, who was named “Pollster of the Year” in 2007 by the American Association of Political Consultants, launched his own firm — Expedition Strategies — last year.

“There is enormous uncertainty among voters worldwide due to ongoing challenges related to demographic shifts, economic turbulence and a breakdown in people’s relationship with institutions at all levels,” Brodnitz wrote in a news release announcing his new firm last year. “When you couple those forces with the challenges posed by changing media consumption habits, understanding how to communicate effectively with voters is crucial.”

His 20-plus years of experience includes doing strategic research for 13 presidents and prime ministers on four continents, among other politicians, corporations and nonprofits. Brodnitz previously did polling for Giunchigliani during her 2006 campaign for a seat on the county commission, which she won.

Giunchigliani has brought on Mark Putnam, Kevin McKeon and Cayce McCabe of Putnam Partners to serve as her campaign’s media consultants. The firm has created many political advertising campaigns, including for North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper who beat incumbent Gov. Pat McCrory last year.

Giunchigliani’s hires offer the latest insight into how she’ll run her campaign despite trailing her primary opponent and commission colleague, Steve Sisolak, in campaign cash. When Giunchigliani formally announced her candidacy earlier this month, she described her campaign as having a grassroots approach powered by the average Nevada residents she wants to help if elected.

It’s unclear how much money she has raised so far. Giunchigliani declined to provide a figure, saying she will disclose the amount on campaign finance reports.

Sisolak announced in late August that he had hired three high-profile political consultants who helped elect former President Barack Obama to the White House to guide his gubernatorial campaign.

INDY FAST FACTS Steve Sisolak Job: Clark County commission chairman Party: Democrat In current office: 2009-present Commission chairman since 2013 Birthdate: December 26, 1953 Education: University of Wisconsin—Milwaukee (B.S.) University of Nevada, Las Vegas (M.B.A.) Other public offices held: Nevada System of Higher Education Regent (1999-2009) Total donations: $9,643,393 (1/12/11-5/31/18) Top donors: MGM Resorts International $174,359 Station Casinos/Zuffa: $90,000 Las Vegas Sands $75,000 Fidelity National $61,600 Marnell Companies LLC $55,000
INDY FAST FACTS Chris Giunchigliani Job: Clark County Commissioner Party: Democrat In current office: 2007-present Birthdate: November 27, 1954 Education: Avila College (B.A.) University of Nevada, Las Vegas (M.A.) Other public offices held: State Assemblywoman, District 9 (1991-2006) Total donations: $2,895,818 (5/08/13-6/7/18) Top donors: Giunchigliani (Chris, Jeanne, JM, Larry, Myrna, Ellen): $65,000 MGM Resorts International $43,165 Caesars Entertainment $35,000 Buck and Aurora Wong $30,000 South Point Hotel & Casino/F&M Advertising $30,000

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