Mayor Karl Dean announced members of his 2011 campaign staff on Tuesday, signaling the official launch of his six-month re-election bid.
The staff is a mix of campaign staffers who helped produce Dean’s 2007 win and a few new faces. According to the Davidson County Election office, Dean has nearly $426,000 in cash on hand. Election Day is Aug. 4, and no one has lined up to challenge the mayor yet.
In a news release that highlights the mayor’s record of leading Nashville through a historic flood and recession — both expected to be prominent campaign themes — Dean called his staff a group of “highly respected professionals.”
“The caliber of this team demonstrates Anne and my deep commitment to this election and the future of Nashville,” Dean said in a statement, referring to his wife, Anne Davis. “We intend to earn every vote, and I look forward to a campaign that tells Nashvillians where we want to take this city over the next four years.”
Leigh Walton, an attorney at Bass, Berry & Sims, will remain the campaign treasurer. She served the same role in the 2007 campaign that brought the relatively unknown Dean, then the city’s law director, to victory among a crowded field of candidates. Dean defeated former U.S. Rep. Bob Clement in a runoff.
Courtney Wheeler, who served as deputy campaign manager during Dean’s 2007 run, is the campaign manager. Following that campaign, Wheeler attended the Texas Tech School of Law, where she received her law degree last year. Wheeler, who served as the political director of the Tennessee Democratic Party in 2005, has worked on several campaigns.
Tom Hayden, former communications director for U.S. Rep. Lincoln Davis, who lost his re-election bid last year, has been named Dean’s deputy campaign manager and director of communications. Hayden worked in Davis’ office for eight years and previously worked for the Tennessee Democratic Party.
Longtime Tennessee Republican fundraiser Kim Kaegi will serve as Dean’s financial consultant. Kaegi, who helped Dean in 2007, also works as a financial consultant for U.S. Sen. Bob Corker and Gov. Bill Haslam.
Pollster Fred Yang has also joined Dean’s team. A partner at Washington-D.C.-based Garin-Hart-Yang Research Group, Yang performed polling for one of Dean’s opponents, former At-large Metro Councilman David Briley, during the 2007 campaign. Yang has also worked for former Gov. Phil Bredesen, U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper and assisted in Dean’s defeat of Councilman Eric Crafton’s “English-only” referendum.
Dean is retaining Mark Putnam as his media consultant. Putnam, founder of Putnam Partners, produced Dean’s television advertising in 2007. According to his company’s website, Putnam has produced more than 1,000 ads for Democratic candidates in 47 states.
Jim Hester, who served as Dean's campaign manager in 2007, will continue working as a top aide to the mayor.
Dean still doesn’t have an opponent. Conservative Metro Council members Eric Crafton and Michael Craddock last week told The City Paper they aren’t ruling out runs against the mayor.
Candidates can pick up paperwork to qualify for Metro’s elections on Feb. 18. They have until May 19 to file their petition papers.