Republican Tom Emmer is set to hire veteran campaign staffer Cullen Sheehan to run his campaign for governor, a source with knowledge of the discussion tells MPR News. The person said the announcement will be made soon. Emmer’s campaign spokesman Bill Walsh said the campaign doesn’t have anything official to announce.
The decision comes two days after Emmer’s consultant, Tom Mason, quit the campaign to go back to his private public relations business. It also comes after Republican Party leaders have questioned the direction of Emmer’s campaign. Some wondered why Emmer kept the tip credit issue in the news for two weeks. Others worry that his primary fundraising report shows that Emmer isn’t raising enough money to compete with two of the Democrats who have already spent millions of their own money on the race.
Discussions about the hire have prompted deep disagreement internally on the direction of the campaign. Walsh has characterized any hires as “additions” to the campaign but others say Sheehan is being brought in because the campaign needs a “full scale shake-up.”
Sheehan will be expected to right the ship. He will leave his position as Chief of Staff for the Minnesota Senate Republican Caucus. Prior to that, he ran Norm Coleman’s U.S. Senate campaign in 2008. That race with Democrat Al Franken prompted an eight month recount in which Franken won by 312 votes.
The hire comes just three days before the August 10th primary. Emmer isn’t facing a significant primary challenge but he still isn’t sure who he’ll face in November. Three Democrats, Margaret Anderson Kelliher, Mark Dayton and Matt Entenza, are vying for their party’s nomination.
Tom Horner and Rob Hahn are vying for the Independence Party nomination.