URBANDALE – Gov. Tim Pawlenty announced today four senior Iowa political operatives have joined his Presidential exploratory team.
Pawlenty said that former U.S. Ambassador to Latvia Chuck Larson, Jr., former Republican National Committee Midwest regional political director Karen Slifka, former Iowans for Tax Relief president Ed Failor Jr., and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee’s 2008 Iowa campaign manager Eric Woolson will serve as senior consultants.
“Chuck, Karen, Ed and Eric are recognized as being among the best of the best in Iowa. They’re widely respected in Iowa and nationally because they understand the caucus process inside out,” Pawlenty said. “They’ve worked with party activists at the grassroots level in every county of the state, and they’ve had a hand in winning campaigns at every level. Their experience and expertise will help us organize conservative.”
Failor, of Muscatine, recently resigned as president of Iowans for Tax Relief. He served more than two years in that position, culminating 16 years with the organization. The group has been acknowledged as one of the most-influential public policy, lobbying and political action organizations in the state. Failor played a major role in the current 60-member GOP majority in the Iowa House, recruiting conservative candidates and helping guide planning and strategy. He led the Republican Party of Iowa’s 2004 Victory Campaign, helping President George W. Bush become the first Republican in 20 years to carry the state. Failor served on the National Taxpayers Union board for 12 years and was the group’s vice chairman. He has been president of Targeted Consulting since 2005.
Larson, a partner with Larson Shannahan Slifka Group, a public policy firm in West Des Moines, represented Cedar Rapids in the Iowa Legislature from 1993 to 2007. He was chairman of the Republican Party of Iowa from 2001 to 2005 and a senior advisor during McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign. As a major in the U.S. Army Reserves, Larson served in Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom and was awarded the Bronze Star for meritorious service in combat and the Combat Action Badge. As a result of that experience, he wrote Heroes Among Us, which profiles 29 heroes from the War on Terrorism and was released by Penguin Publishing Group. Larson, a former Jones County assistant attorney, earned his bachelor’s and law degrees from the University of Iowa.
Slifka is the managing partner of the Larson Shannahan Slifka Group. In her role as RNC Midwest Regional Political Director, she advised state parties and candidates for federal office in eight states. She served in a similar capacity for President Bush’s re-election campaign and directed the grassroots campaign in the key battleground states of Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin. Her grassroots and field experience in Iowa includes serving as development director for Iowans for Tax Relief and state director for the John Kasich Presidential Exploratory Committee. She began her career with Congressman Jim Nussle as a field representative in 1992 and a finance director in 1994.
Woolson, who was former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee’s 2008 Iowa campaign manager, will be Pawlenty’s state spokesman. Before working for Huckabee, Woolson was a communications director for Gov. Terry Branstad from 1996-99 and Iowa spokesman for George W. Bush during the 2000 presidential campaign. He was the communications director for the 2002 Doug Gross for Governor Campaign and was an adviser to the Miller-Meeks for Congress campaign in 2008 and 2010. Woolson managed the 2010 Bob Vander Plaats for Governor campaign and was a spokesman for U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley’s 2010 re-election campaign. A journalist during the first 20 years of his career, Woolson has owned a West Des Moines public and government relations firm, The Concept Works, since 2002.
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