RGA picks Paul Bennecke for executive director slot
The Republican Governors Association has tapped a veteran committee insider, Georgia political hand Paul Bennecke, to serve as the group’s executive director under its newly elected chairman, Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam.
The influential staff job is among the most coveted positions in Republican politics, placing the occupant in the captain’s chair at a committee that routinely raises and spends hundreds of millions of dollars from one election cycle to the next. Senior advisers to multiple GOP governors sought the post.
Bennecke has been a senior RGA strategist on and off for years, serving as the group’s political director from 2007 to 2010. Bennecke ran the committee’s outside spending in three states during the most recent election cycle: Massachusetts, Kansas and Georgia.
The third of those states is where Bennecke has made his political reputation: He worked as a top adviser to Republican Sonny Perdue, who won the Georgia governorship in a 2002 upset and later served as RGA chairman. In 2014, Bennecke advised David Perdue — the former governor’s cousin — in a successful bid for the U.S. Senate.
Republicans characterized the choice of Bennecke — like Haslam’s selection as RGA chairman — as a triumph of low-drama competence and stability at a committee that’s already perceived as a political success story. In a statement, Haslam cited Bennecke’s “deep experience and great success winning governor’s races” as the reasons for his selection.
“RGA is fortunate to have such a bright and talented individual helping lead the organization,” the Tennessee governor said.
Bennecke replaces outgoing executive director Phil Cox, who led the committee for four years after managing Bob McDonnell’s victorious campaign for governor of Virginia in 2009.
Republicans have moved more swiftly than Democrats in filling the leadership slots at their gubernatorial committee. Democrats are expected to make Montana Gov. Steve Bullock their chairman later this month, with senior staffing decisions to follow.
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