Whether it's April 7 or some other date close to it doesn't really matter. It's been very clear for the last three years or so that Paul is running for president. Announcing it is just formalizing what we already know. To that end, now seems like the right time to detail the people who will form Paul's political inner circle for his presidential bid.
Before we get started, it's worth noting that Paul (and his people) take great pride in the idea that he is his own best adviser. Back in May 2013, Alex Burns wrote in Politico: "For all Paul’s success as a media brand and a mobilizer of the conservative grassroots, the Kentucky senator has done relatively little since 2010 to assemble a political machine around his own personality." Last fall, Politico published a piece on Paul titled, "The One-Man Think Tank."
That said, no one runs — or runs well — for president without a team of trusted advisers around them. Paul is no different. The list below reflects conversations with a variety of people in the Paul orbit over the past few days. They are listed alphabetically. One notable absence: a pollster. Fritz Wenzel has handled polling for Paul in the past but won't play that role for the presidential. A decision on a pollster is expected shortly.
* Jesse Benton: Benton is family to Paul, literally. He is married to Rand's niece. As such, he has been in the Paul — Ron and Rand — orbit for a very long time. Benton did a stint as campaign manager for now-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's 2014 campaign but stepped away in August 2014 amid a controversy surrounding the 2008 Iowa caucuses. Benton and Doug Stafford (more on him below) may be the first two among equals when it comes to Rand's brain trust.
* Mike Biundo: Biundo ran former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum's 2012 presidential bid and is now heading up Paul's operation in New Hampshire. (Biundo is a native New Hampshirite.) Biundo has significant experience in the Granite State, having worked to elect Frank Guinta as mayor of Manchester and then to Congress. Biundo also was part of the New Hampshire campaign of Pat Buchanan, who scored a major upset victory in the state in 1996.
* Rex Elsass: Elsass has been Paul's main media consultant since the 2010 Senate race. The Ohio native has been a somewhat controversial figure in the consulting world but does have an impressive resume of winning clients, including Ohio Gov. John Kasich. He also was the lead media consultant for Newt Gingrich's 2012 presidential bid and for then-Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann's presidential campaign that same cycle.
* Chip Englander: Englander is one of the newest additions to Paulworld — he joined in January — following his successful stewardship of Bruce Rauner's Illinois gubernatorial campaign in November 2014. The California native was the executive director of the San Diego County Republican Party and managed former congressman Mark Neumann's 2010 Wisconsin gubernatorial bid. (Neumann lost to Scott Walker. You may have heard of him.)
* Sergio Gor: Gor is a communications adviser for Paul's Senate office and is widely described as the "press gatekeeper" for the senator. Gor, a former Fox News Channel producer, made a bit of congressional history in 2010 when he was the press secretary for both Iowa Rep. Steve King and Bachmann.
* Steve Grubbs: Grubbs, a former state representative and chairman of the Republican Party of Iowa, is leading Paul's effort in the Hawkeye State. Grubbs made his name working for Bob Dole in Iowa in 1996 and was also heavily involved in Steve Forbes's Iowa campaign in 2000.
* Vincent Harris: Harris is the "digital guru" for Paul. Harris did work on the digital side for the presidential bids of Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Gingrich in 2012 and then served in that same role for McConnell's 2014 reelection. Harris also did digital work for Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, and his recruitment by Paul was seen as a coup for the Kentucky senator.
* Chris LaCivita: LaCivita is the most "establishment" figure in Paul's inner circle, having served — among other roles — as the political director of the National Republican Senatorial Committee. LaCivita is widely credited — along with Corry Bliss — of saving Sen. Pat Roberts's reelection bid in 2014, and his work with the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth during the 2004 presidential campaign remains legendary in GOP political circles (and reviled in Democratic ones). LaCivita will be the lead Paul person in South Carolina.
* Doug Stafford: Stafford is the political Svengali figure in Paul's world, having served as Paul's chief of staff and now the head of his outside political organization. Prior to joining up with Paul, Stafford was part of the National Right to Work Committee.