Bush poaches longtime Romney adviser — Reid on the mend — Patrick Murphy … – Politico

With Steven Shepard and Sandhya Raman

The following newsletter is an abridged version of Campaign Pro’s Morning Score. For an earlier morning read on exponentially more races – and for a more comprehensive aggregation of the day’s most important campaign news — sign up for Campaign Pro today. (http://www.politicopro.com/proinfo)

TALENT PRIMARY — “Romney strategist jumps to Bush,” by The New York Times’s Jonathan Martin: “David Kochel, an Iowa-based Republican strategist who worked on both of Mitt Romney’s presidential campaigns, is joining Jeb Bush’s political action committee as a senior strategist and is in line to serve as Mr. Bush’s national campaign manager … The move to tap Mr. Kochel, who advised Mr. Romney for over six years, represents a shot across the bow of the 2012 Republican nominee, who is now considering a third White House bid. Mr. Kochel offered only praise for Mr. Romney, while also promoting Mr. Bush’s strengths. ‘I really believe Governor Bush is the right person for the right time,’ he said.” http://nyti.ms/1yFwXiG

— And Sen. Rand Paul snagged a Texas-based strategist out from underneath Sen. Ted Cruz and former Gov. Rick Perry, according to The Wall Street Journal: http://on.wsj.com/1Dd9Lwp

DEMS GETTING LEADER BACK — “Reid returning to Senate next week,” by POLITICO’s Manu Raju: “Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid will return to the chamber next week, but he’ll probably need additional surgery to repair his badly injured eye, senators and aides said Thursday … Reid has been recovering this week at his condo in Washington and has made only a few public appearances since the accident, which occurred when a resistance band snapped during his exercise routine at his home in the Las Vegas suburbs. Nevertheless, Reid is expected to return to the Senate by the time of the weekly party lunches on Tuesday, aides said Thursday. Democrats canceled this past Tuesday’s lunch out of deference to Reid, senators said.” http://politi.co/1tz9JPB

As Lindsey Graham inches closer to a presidential bid and the South Dakota GOP thinks Thune in ’16, here’s POLITICO’s Morning Score: daily news, notes and essential information for the 2015 and 2016 election cycles.

Days until the 2015 election: 277; Days until the 2016 election: 648

Thanks for joining us. We’re eager for your news and feedback. Email us at kcheney@politico.com or find us on Twitter at @kyledcheney.

MORE 2016 GOP — “Graham: I’ve got what GOP needs in 2016,” by POLITICO’s Manu Raju and Burgess Everett: “Blunt-spoken Lindsey Graham is a vocal supporter of the Iraq War, a deal-cutter on immigration and a backer of President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominees. And that’s the profile the Republican Party needs in its next presidential nominee, he says … Graham, 59, who won a third Senate term in November, made his comments Thursday after announcing the formation of an exploratory committee called “Security through Strength” to test the waters for a potential 2016 presidential bid. The committee will be run by David Wilkins, who was a U.S. ambassador to Canada under former President George W. Bush, along with two GOP operatives, Christian Ferry and Scott Farmer.” http://politi.co/1uG1M6o

— South Dakota Republicans change mind on ballot access law: Pure Pierre Politics reports that GOP state lawmakers — mindful that Sen. John Thune might consider entering the 2016 mix — have proposed changing a law that prohibits politicians from seeking two statewide offices at once. The catch: the original law was passed 13 years ago to block then-Sen. Tom Daschle, a Democrat, from doing the same. http://bit.ly/1z9rNRl

— “Gingrich still deep in campaign debt,” by POLITICO’s Jake Sherman, with James Hohmann: “Newt Gingrich’s 2012 presidential campaign is still more than $4.6 million in debt, according to a campaign filing made public this week. The former House speaker owes himself $649,117 and his Newt 2012 entity is in the hole for $407,620 to Patriot Group, a private security company. He owes air travel company Moby Dick Airways $977,322; CMDI, a data management company, more than $210,000; and law firm McKenna Long & Aldridge $287,258. Gingrich bowed out of the presidential race in May 2012.

GOP consultant suffers heart attack: Scott Howell, a veteran GOP media consultant, is recovering from a severe heart attack in a Texas ICU. Roll Call reports that the ad maker suffered the attack Monday and is now stable and making slow progress. Colleagues in the Republican consulting world have been sending well-wishes on Twitter. http://bit.ly/1CQoP5q

CAN EMANUEL AVOID A RUNOFF? — Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel appears on track for a second term, according to a new Chicago Tribune poll out Thursdayy that shows a chief challenger has yet to emerge ahead of the Feb. 24 election. The big question is whether he can clear the 50 percent hurdle and avoid an early-April runoff against the second-place finisher. Emanuel has the support of 42 percent of likely voters, according to the poll. But one-in-five voters are still undecided. Cook County Commissioner Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, at 18 percent in the poll, appears to be Emanuel’s strongest opponent. But he still has work to do to distance himself from the rest of the field — Alderman Bob Fioretti is at 10 percent, and self-funding businessman Willie Wilson is at 7 percent — to position himself for a runoff with Emanuel, if he can hold the incumbent under the 50-percent threshold. The poll: http://trib.in/18yZSju

DOWNBALLOT — Pennsylvania Treasurer Rob McCord, who ran and lost in last year’s gubernatorial primary, is resigning for the private sector, the Patriot News reports: http://bit.ly/1uFgmLy; But that may not be all of the story. Local ABC affiliate WPVI reports that McCord is under federal investigation for alleged theft of campaign funds. http://6abc.cm/18zQjRq

CODA — QUOTE OF THE DAY: “I made a mean chili the other day.” — Former Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.), on his post-campaign hobbies, according to the Boston Globe. http://bit.ly/1z8yxil


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