CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who is weighing a presidential bid, made his first hire in the key early voting state of New Hampshire on Thursday, bringing aboard veteran political strategist Rich Killion.
If Bush formally seeks the Republican nomination for president, winning the New Hampshire primary will be critical and Killion has experience here. He worked on Mitt Romney's 2008 presidential bid and as an adviser to former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty in 2012. He also helped state Senate Republicans increase their majority in 2014.
"Rich's counsel will be critical to Gov. Bush as he outlines his vision for the future of our country and travels across America in support of conservative candidates and causes," said Matt Gorman, spokesman for Bush's political committee Right to Rise. "We're excited to have him on board."
Bush is planning a trip to New Hampshire on March 13 and 14, his first since campaigning with his brother former President George W. Bush ahead of the 2000 primary.
So-called establishment candidates typically do well in the New Hampshire primary, and Romney's decision not to run opens the field for a candidate such as Jeb Bush. Other possible candidates such as New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker could also appeal to the establishment base here.
Bush's record of public school reform, support for charter schools and message of economic opportunity will resonate well in New Hampshire, Killion said.
"Although our party has many accomplished individuals, Gov. Bush's track record of making conservative principles work for millions of Floridians clearly stands out and I'm thrilled to help him with the Right to Rise PAC," Killion said in an email.
Killion's strong working relationship with Senate President Chuck Morse could be beneficial to Bush as he seeks to win key state endorsements in a crowded field.
Killion is not the only member of Bush's team with New Hampshire ties; PAC staffer Jesse Hunt served as deputy communications director for Scott Brown's unsuccessful bid for U.S. Senate in New Hampshire.
Other potential 2016 candidates including U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, U.S. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Christie have also hired New Hampshire operatives.