After Ashwin Madia secured the Democratic Party endorsement in April, his campaign underwent a significant makeover. Most notably, with the Congressional contest firmly on the national radar, Jonathan Murray was hired to be the rookie candidate’s campaign manager.
But less than two months later, there’s a new political operative at the helm of the campaign, Stuart Rosenberg. The Wisconsin native most recently worked as a regional field director at the Human Rights Campaign. In 2004 he was in charge of voter-turnout efforts for the Wisconsin Democratic Coordinated Campaign. He’s also worked on races in Massachusetts, Florida and Michigan.
I spoke with Rosenberg on Saturday morning as he drove through Ohio en route to his new job. He says that the change at the top of the campaign should not be seen as a sign of turbulence in the Madia camp. “Jonathan did a great job of fitting the pieces of the puzzle together,” says Rosenberg. “He did a fantastic job. I happen to know the Twin Cities really well.”
In 1996 Rosenberg worked closely with the Minnesota Environmental Initiative to start a similar effort in Wisconsin. He’s been close friends with state Rep. Steve Simon (DFL-St. Louis Park) and former St. Paul City Council candidate Mitch Gordon since their college days at Tufts University.
“I’m trying to go in there with an empty slate,” says Rosenberg. “I think my biggest job is to listen. Ashwin Madia is the nominee in large part because of the volunteer corps that he built and those are local people.”
Owing to the retirement of Rep. Jim Ramstad and recent indications that the district is trending Democratic, the contest will receive intense scrutiny from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and other national organizations. But Rosenberg insists that control of the campaign will remain local. “Certainly I’m not going to turn away their help just blindly,” he says, “but I do want to make sure the assistance they provide is truly going to be an asset in the November.”
Madia’s Republican opponent Erik Paulsen recently received some gushing praise from Washington pundit Stuart Rothenberg, but the new campaign manager dismisses such testimonials as irrelevant to most voters. “I don’t think inside-the-beltway, two-paragraph descriptions of one candidate or another in June is going to hold much sway,” he says. “I did not lose any sleep last night.”