By Patrick Svitek, The Texas Tribune, texastribune.org
As Donald Trump moves to professionalize his presidential campaign, the presumptive Republican nominee is assembling a stable of political talent with ties to Texas and its junior U.S. senator — Trump’s former rival in the race for the White House.
The latest example came Friday, when Trump’s campaign announced it had hired Kellyanne Conway, the former head of a super PAC supporting Ted Cruz’s presidential campaign. She will serve as a senior adviser to Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and a member of the campaign’s national polling team.
“Kellyanne is a tremendous asset to our rapidly-expanding campaign team,” Trump said in a statement. “She is a data and messaging expert and terrific on TV. It is great to have her on board.”
Trump’s campaign is also bolstering its polling operation with the addition of Mike Baselice, a veteran Austin-based pollster who has previously worked for former Gov. Rick Perry and current Gov. Greg Abbott when he was attorney general. On Thursday, Baselice confirmed the move, which was first reported by The New York Times.
Trump’s hiring spree also drew attention this week in Texas following a report that it had brought on board Austin-based digital guru Vincent Harris, who had previously worked for Cruz as well as for Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul’s presidential campaign. On Thursday evening, however, Harris said in a series of tweets that neither he nor his firm was directly working for the campaign.
“Harris Media was engaged as subcontractor to do various project work for Trump’s digital agency of record. Nothing more or less,” Harris wrote in one tweet.
Earlier in the week, Trump’s campaign announced the hire of Jason Miller, a former top aide to Cruz. Miller will serve as senior communications adviser to Trump and help “build out a full Communications Department to deliver victory this November,” Trump’s campaign said Tuesday morning.
Miller previously worked in a similar role for Cruz, who waged a fierce battle against Trump in the primaries. Miller is the first former Cruz campaign official to formally join Trump’s ranks, a move that comes as many Cruz alumni and the former candidate himself continue to withhold their support from Trump.
Like many operatives who have previously worked for another candidate, Conway and Miller left a trail of anti-Trump comments while boosting Cruz. As word of Miller’s hire spread Tuesday afternoon, some media outlets noticed a number of his tweets bashing Trump, or “#SleazyDonald,” had been deleted.
Unlike Conway and Miller, some of Trump’s Texas talent has been with him since the beginning of his campaign, most prominently San Antonio web designer Brad Parscale. The Trump campaign named Parscale as digital director last week.
The firm co-founded by Parscale, whom the campaign officially named digital director last week, has been doing work for the Trump brand for years, including websites for the Trump Winery in Virginia and Melania Trump, the candidate’s wife. Since the launch of Trump’s campaign, it has paid Giles-Parscale more than $2.5 million for its services, according to federal records.
The firm is looking to hire as many as 100 people to keep up with its efforts for the Trump campaign, according to the San Antonio Business Journal.
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