Mitch Daniels’ political inner circle

at 04:08 PM ET, 05/03/2011


Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels is nearing a decision on whether to run for president in 2012. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana, File)
Decision day approaches for Indiana Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels.

For months, he pointed to the end of the state’s legislative session as the deadline for a final go/no-go decision on whether or not to run for president in 2012.

The session ended last week. But, so far, Daniels has been mum on his plans — telling the Indianapolis Star over the weekend that a decision will come “within weeks”.

Daniels’ schedule this week is packed — he received an award on Monday from the Columbia Business School, was honored today by the Harbour League in Baltimore and will speak at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, DC tomorrow — and, perhaps as a result, there is no announcement expected on whether or not he will run.

There is, however, some speculation that Daniels will make his plans known next Thursday — May 12 — at the Indiana Republican Party’s spring dinner where his wife, Cheri, is set to be the keynote speaker.

(Cheri Daniels is notoriously publicity-shy so some believe her decision to step into the limelight somewhat could be a telling indication of which way her husband is leaning.)

If that speculation is right, Daniels has nine days to make a final decision on 2012. Who is he consulting as he seeks to assess his place (or lack thereof) in the race? Our list of Daniels’ political inner circle is after the jump.

The Mitch Daniels Inner Circle (listed alphabetically)

*Kim Alfano: Alfano served as Daniels’ media consultant in his 2004 and 2008 gubernatorial campaigns. While Daniels’ lore holds that he writes his own television ads, Alfano was also intimately involved in helping craft the populist persona that proved so successful for Daniels in Indiana. Alfano has also done work in the past for former Tennessee senator Fred Thompson’s presidential campaign and made the ads for Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad during the 2010 election.

* Debbie Hohlt: Hohlt runs Daniels’ D.C. office and is the main point of contact for the governor in the nation’s capital. She’s been in GOP politics for years including serving a stint at the Republican National Committee as deputy communications director during the 1988 election. Her husband, Rick, is a major GOP fundraiser — and a native Hoosier.

* Eric Holcomb: Holcomb is the first among equals in Daniels’ political world, having managed the governor’s 2008 re-election campaign. He is now the chairman of the Indiana Republican party, replacing Murray Clark, another Daniels’ ally, who stepped down at the end last year.

* Al Hubbard: Hubbard is an Indiana native who has spent considerable time in previous Republican Administrations, serving as head of the National Economic Council during George W. Bush’s second term. Hubbard was also a major fundraiser for Bush during the presiden’st two terms in office.

* Mark Lubbers: Lubbers is a longtime friend of Daniels who served as his top political adviser for a time in the governor’s office. He also managed Indiana Sen. Dick Lugar’s 1996 bid for president and helped organize the reality television show Daniels created during his gubernatorial campaigns. Lubbers is married to Teresa Lubbers, a former state senator and now the Commissioner of Higher Education in Indiana.

* Christine Matthews: Matthews is the low-profile pollster who handled survey research for Daniels during his 2004 and 2008 runs for governor. She is the president and founder of Bellwether Research.

* Brian McGrath: McGrath is the executive director of Aiming Higher, a Daniels-aligned political action committee in the state.(The group sponsored ads slamming state House Democrats for leaving town earlier this year.) McGrath has a hand in the fundraising and policy-making worlds of Daniels, according to those in the know.

 
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