Holcombe Hires Out-of-State Campaign Team | Off Message

Holcombe Hires Out-of-State Campaign Team


  • File: Jeb Wallace-Brodeur
  • Rebecca Holcombe
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Rebecca Holcombe has enlisted an experienced campaign team — but only one of its members hails from Vermont.

Serving as senior adviser is Brian Lenzmeier, a political operative who appears to have run congressional campaigns in New Mexico in 2014 and in Michigan in 2016; in 2018, he seems to have run a secretive super PAC backing a Pennsylvania congressional candidate.
Lenzmeier did not respond to requests for information about his background, but he did provide the names of Holcombe's other consultants:

  • Oren Shur and Doug Thornell of Washington, D.C.-based SKDKnickerbocker will lead Holcombe's media team.

  • Matt Hogan and Molly Murphy of ALG Research, which has offices in six states, will serve as pollsters.

  • Ed Peavy and Maren Hesla of Connecticut-based Mission Control will run Holcombe's direct mail program.

  • And Kelley Jacobsen of GPS Impact, which has offices in multiple states, will serve as a digital consultant.
The only Vermonter on the team, South Burlington High School social studies teacher and state Board of Education chair Krista Huling, will act as campaign treasurer. That role is typically an unpaid gig.

Holcombe also appears to have some support from EMILY's List, the D.C.-based organization that supports pro-choice, Democratic women — though the group has not formally endorsed her. "She has been in regular contact with EMILY's List as she considered her campaign for governor, and she appreciates their insight," Lenzmeier said.

Asked why her campaign was largely populated by those unfamiliar with the state, Lenzmeier said, "As she begins to hire her campaign staff, it will obviously include primarily Vermonters. But it’s not uncommon for candidates for governor to also turn to advisors who specialize in governors' races, just like prior governors and candidates have done. Just about every governor in the country has done that, including Gov. [Phil] Scott."

While it’s true that some statewide campaigns in Vermont have been run by D.C. political consultants — such as Sue Minter’s, Brian Dubie’s and Deb Markowitz’s gubernatorial bids — those operatives have often been blamed for failing to grasp the nuances of Vermont politics. Successful campaigns, including Scott’s, have typically been run by those with experience in the state.