Update 10:30 a.m. Whitman manager Jillian Hasner has just sent out a release confirming the Calbuzz scoop that Mike Murphy is signing on to eMeg’s campaign for governor. He’s “joining the team to advise, at a senior level, our campaign’s winning strategy,” says Hasner. Here’s our earlier story, posted at 12:06 a.m.
Mike Murphy, the blunt-spoken, sharp-tongued, smart aleck Republican strategist who has advised such clients as John McCain, Mitt Romney and Arnold Schwarzenegger, is joining Meg Whitman’s campaign for governor, two reliable sources told Calbuzz.
Whitman, who has already spent more than $20 milllion, decided to shake up her campaign on Friday, Nov. 13, one source told us, and add another layer to her consultant-rich organization.
Murphy is widely known in the business for his skill in dealing with the media, which could help eMeg’s dreadful relations with much of the California press; although she has enjoyed a host of often fawning profiles in national publications, she has strained relations with many of the state’s major media outlets. Most recently, the Wall Street Journal described her “thin skinned” attitude towards the press, a charge she answered by saying many of the newspapers seeking access to her would soon be out of business.
Murphy is widely credited with Schwarzenegger’s victory in the 2003 election; at the same time, he is also blamed for the disastrous defeat of Arnold’s agenda of reform initiatives in 2005, which led to his departure from the Schwarzenegger camp.
More recently, Murphy has been vocal in his criticism of Sarah Palin, beginning with her selection by McCain as a running mate in the 2008 election. His continuing criticisms of Palin, and of the right-wing ideologues who champion her as a Republican savior, would bring an intriguing element into the GOP primary for governor, where the most conservative elements of the party historically dominate the vote.
In addition to McCain and Romney, Murphy’s gubernatorial clients have included Jeb Bush, John Engler, Tommy Thompson, Christie Whitman, Dirk Kempthorne and Terry Branstad. Also the senatorial races of Lamar Alexander, Slade Gorton, Spence Abraham, Jeff Sessions, Dirk Kempthorne, Steve Symms, Paul Coverdell, and Larry Pressler.
A spokesman for the Whitman campaign did not respond to a request for comment. Murphy could not be reached.