Manchin announces 2018 campaign staff

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., announced his re-election campaign staff Wednesday, which includes former members of Gov. Jim Justice’s staff and a longtime adviser to the senator.

Grant Herring and Marcus Constantino will serve as communications director and digital director respectively. Both left the governor’s office — Constantino in August and Herring in September — following Justice’s switch to the Republican Party.

Justice, who was elected as a Democrat, announced the move at an Aug. 3 rally in Huntington with President Donald Trump.

Larry Puccio will serve as senior adviser to the campaign. Puccio served as chief of staff for Manchin during his time as secretary of state from 2001 to 2005 and later when Manchin became governor. He also served as chairman of the West Virginia Democratic Party from June 2010 to January 2015, stepping down to serve as chairman of Country Roads PAC, Manchin’s political action committee.

According to a Sept. 15 filing with U.S. Federal Election Commission, Country Roads PAC has $451,184.35 on hand.

Larry Puccio

Puccio also is registered as a lobbyist according to the West Virginia Ethics Commission, which has directories of registered lobbyists on its website dating back to a 2009-2010 period. As reported in the register for the 2017-2018 registration period dated Oct. 10, Puccio represents multiple interests in his lobbying work, including the Greenbrier Resort, Mylan Inc., Frontier Communications, FirstEnergy and the West Virginia Press Association.

Manchin’s daughter, Heather Bresch, serves as CEO of Mylan.

Puccio and Manchin were named in a lawsuit worth more than $14 million regarding an investment into a Hilton Garden Inn in Morgantown. Manchin said on Wednesday’s MetroNews “Talkline” the investment was made as part of a blind trust.

Puccio also served as chairman of the Justice transition team prior to the governor’s January inauguration.

The rest of the campaign staff includes the following individuals:

— Pat Devney, who is serving as campaign manager.
— Patti Hamilton, who is the West Virginia Finance Director. She is responsible for overseeing in-state fundraising efforts.
— Kelsey Kirby, whose responsibilities as a grassroots organizer includes engaging community leaders and college students. Kirby is Manchin’s granddaughter, and graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in May.
— Gary Burke, who will focus on mobilizing local and Democratic leaders. According to a campaign press release, Burke previously worked for DuPont Chemical as well as other Democratic campaigns.

“We’ve assembled a phenomenal group with the passion and talent to lead our campaign in 2018,” Manchin said in a press release. “Each of our campaigns has always been about directly engaging as many voters as possible and this one won’t be any different.”

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