Democratic gubernatorial hopeful and Secretary of State Deb Markowitz announced this week she has hired a full-time campaign manager.
The hire comes on the heels of news that Markowitz is losing her top two staffers — Jason Powell and Reid DeWolfe. Powell's last day is the end of September, while DeWolfe plans to transition out later this fall.
Paul Tencher, 29, a Rhode Island native, will start the day after Columbus Day. He comes to Markowitz after serving on Capitol Hill as the spokesman for first-year U.S. Rep. Mary Jo Kilroy (D-OH). She won her seat by less than a 1 percent margin last fall, and he began working for her earlier this year.
In 2008, Tencher was the communications director for Democratic State Rep. Judy Baker’s unsuccessful congressional race in northeast Missouri in 2008.
"Deb is a wonderful candidate with great tools at her disposal," said Tencher. "I've been mostly involved in federal races lately and they've been fun, but I'm much more interested in working with a more grassroots campaign. She's done a ton of work at the grassroots level as secretary of state and has a great demeanor."
Tencher also noted that most of his bosses — politically — have been women. And he likes that.
"I've done a lot of work with EMILY's List and I believe we need more women elected to office at the state and federal levels, and those are the campaigns I prefer to work on," said Tencher.
Prior to working for congressional House candidates, Tencher served as chief of staff to Rhode Island Lt. Governor Elizabeth Roberts and successfully managed her campaign for the post in 2006. Roberts is the highest-ranking female elected official in state history.
In his short career, Tencher has also served as spokesperson for Rhode Island Secretary of State Matt Brown and worked for the public affairs firm Vision Strategies.
He also managed state legislative campaigns in southern New Jersey, and began his career as the deputy press secretary for Dr. Anne Sumers for Congress in northern New Jersey.
Two weeks ago, Democrat Doug Racine hired Amy Shollenberger, 38, to act as his field director. She's the third staffer on his fledgling gubernatorial campaign.
Shollenberger has worked as a press secretary and legislative assistant for U.S. Rep. Karen McCarthy (D-MO) and as a senior policy analyst for Public Citizens Critical Mass Energy and Environment Program.
In Vermont, she worked for the Lamoille Valley Tobacco Task Force and the Chittenden County Domestic Violence Task Force, and she served as Rural Vermont's executive director, where she developed campaigns to increase farmers' ability to sell products directly to consumers.
Shollenberger joins Sam Winship of Rutland and Mark Larson of Burlington. The campaign emphasized that her hiring reflects the growing momentum for Sen. Racine's campaign.
In other campaign news of note, Kate O'Connor, a former top aide to Gov. Howard Dean, is helping Senate President Pro Tem Peter Shumlin decide whether to run for governor or not.
"What happens if he does has yet to be determined," she told Seven Days.
Aside from Racine and Markowitz, State Sen. Susan Bartlett (D-Lamoille) is the only other announced candidate. State Sen. Matt Dunne, another likely gubernatorial candidate, is not ready to announce.