Perry beefs up political staff ahead of likely 2016 run

rick perry cpac 2015
Rick Perry re-boots for 2016
07:05 - Source: CNN
Washington CNN  — 

Rick Perry’s political operation is on a hiring spree as the Texas governor sets his sights on a second run for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016.

Perry’s senior-most adviser Jeff Miller, a California transplant and former Arnold Schwarzenegger aide, has taken a leave of absence from his consulting firm to work full-time for Perry’s political action committee, a source familiar with the move told CNN.

Miller and longtime Perry confidante Rob Johnson are now “100%” devoted to Perry’s political efforts, the source said. Perry has said he expects to make make a decision about running for president by the end of June.

Perry’s decision to firm up the status of his senior leadership team comes a day after supporters of the governor, led by former Mitt Romney adviser Austin Barbour, launched a separate super PAC — a requisite move for any modern campaign — called the Opportunity and Freedom PAC.

The Texas governor has also brought on Romney’s Virginia-based digital firm, Targeted Victory, for the likely campaign.

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Perry, who has already signed up political staff in the leadoff nominating states of Iowa and New Hampshire, is also hiring advisers for his PAC in South Carolina, sources said. Many of them were with Perry during his last campaign.

Katon Dawson, the garrulous former South Carolina GOP Chairman who advised Perry’s 2012 bid, has been named RickPAC’s state director.

Walter Whetsell, a direct mail veteran and adviser to several South Carolina congressmen, will serve as his senior adviser in the state, and Le Frye, his 2012 political director, will manage the PAC’s day-to-day efforts. Jeff Alderman, who has toiled on a range of local races, will be the PAC’s field director, while Jonathan Davis will be field representative.

Perry will visit South Carolina next Tuesday and Wednesday to meet with Republicans and raise money for the Greenville County GOP and the Greenville Chamber of Commerce PAC.