Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) on Tuesday announced the hiring of a campaign manager for his likely 2016 presidential bid, part of an aggressive effort to build a national political team as the race for the White House heats up.
The hiring of strategist Chip Englander, who recently guided a gubernatorial candidate to victory in Illinois, marks a clear step forward for the Kentucky Republican as he prepares to transform his cadre of loyalists into a full-scale campaign.
Doug Stafford, Paul’s longtime confidant, will remain as his chief political adviser. In an interview Tuesday, Stafford said he will rely on Englander “for the day-to-day execution” of Paul’s operation.
The move underscores Paul's unorthodox approach to presidential politics and his expected candidacy, with plans to put an emphasis on outreach to the poor and younger voters while also courting conservative activists in early-primary states.
In an interview Tuesday, Englander argued that Paul’s unconventional positions would lay the foundation for a potent Republican coalition. Paul has articulated mostly non-interventionist views on foreign policy, while taking hardline stances against tax hikes and President Obama’s health-care law domestically.
“America has intractable problems and it’s going to take a transformational leader to fix them,” Englander said. “Senator Paul is going to be the bold, transformational figure in this race.”
The hiring of Englander comes as former Florida governor Jeb Bush and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney are moving closer to launching their own 2016 campaigns and connecting with donors and Republican officials.
Rather than bringing on a consultant well-known in Washington or one with ties to his father, former Texas congressman Ron Paul, the Kentucky Republican has enlisted a youthful outsider to coordinate his efforts.
Englander, 33, who spent much of his early career working in California politics, last year managed Republican Bruce Rauner’s campaign for governor in Illinois, guiding the wealthy businessman through a competitive primary and then to a decisive win in the general election - in part by outpacing Democrats in some urban areas and steering clear of hot-button social issues.
Stafford cited the work of Englander in helping Rauner win a blue state where Republicans have had scattered success as a key reason why Rand Paul settled on him. He also focused on Englander's management of Rauner's sprawling network of volunteers and a campaign budget of nearly $70 million.
“Chip Englander has proved he is among the top managers in the business, as evidenced by the historic Rauner race and his 15 years of grassroots experience," Stafford said. "I am pleased that I will get to work alongside him."
Paul added in a statement: "His management of Governor Rauner's successful race last year highlights his strengths: precise and strategic management of massive, grassroots-driven operations."
Englander said in the interview, “We built 83 offices and got together 10,000 volunteers and knocked on millions of doors. Some politicians run campaigns from television studios. That’s not the way I do things, and that’s not the way you win.”
Englander joins a group of advisers at Paul's political-action committee that will serve as Paul's brain trust, should he formally enter the 2016 race. Iowa-based Republican Steve Grubbs has already joined the PAC, as has Michigan-based operative John Yob, who serves as Paul's national political director. Chris LaCivita - who advised Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) in 2014 and Virginia gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli (R) in 2013 - is planning to direct Paul's South Carolina campaign. All are senior advisers in the freshman senator's political shop.
Michael Biundo, who was campaign manager for former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum's 2012 presidential campaign, which won 11 primaries and caucuses, is another senior adviser set to run Paul's New Hampshire campaign.
Digital strategist Vincent Harris - who previously worked for Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) - is also onboard for Paul 2016 along with online fundraiser Mike Rothfeld and media director Rex Elsass.
As Paul continues to talk through a possible campaign with his family, Englander will hold the title of senior adviser at Paul's PAC, but people familiar with the hire say he has been assured that he will manage what has become a campaign-in-waiting.
In a memo being shared with Paul's donors and allies, Englander is being touted as the Republican who engineered a victory in a state "Obama won by 25%" and "drew in new types of voters to win the state, including winning a majority of moderates, unprecedented for a Republican."
In conversations Tuesday, Paul associates said they are confident that regardless of whether Bush or Romney climbs in the polls, they will be able to make a play for the nomination by performing well in the early primaries and caucuses and eventually emerging as a consensus favorite.
They also hope that Paul, who has cultivated relationships with major GOP donors in recent years, will be able to bridge the party’s movement conservative, libertarian, and establishment wings.
In an interview Tuesday with The Daily Signal, a conservative website, Paul said Romney, the GOP’s 2012 nominee, “had his chance” and that it is “time for some fresh blood.” He said Romney “wasn’t able to attract a big enough constituency to win, and there was every opportunity to win last time.”
On Wednesday, Paul will travel to New Hampshire for a series of meetings and events. Later this year, he will release “Taking a Stand: Moving beyond Partisan Politics to Unite America,” a book, aides said, that will complement his 2016 pitch.