Jake Oeth, Bruce Braley’s former political director, has been brought on by Martin O’Malley’s PAC to begin outreach efforts in Iowa, according to a Politico story posted early Tuesday morning. Starting Line as well had heard from multiple sources in Iowa that Oeth had been recruited by O’Malley to start laying the groundwork for a potential Iowa Caucus campaign. It also sounds like Brad Elkins, Jack Hatch’s former political director, has been helping set up behind-the-scenes meetings along with Oeth as well.
Whatever role Oeth might eventually serve on an O’Malley presidential run in Iowa, it’s a great get for the former Maryland governor. Well-respected inside the party, Oeth is particularly well-liked by county-level activists around the state. He was a constant presence alongside Bruce Braley at the Congressman’s events around the state for years.
Oeth would also be a key asset in bringing on experienced Iowa campaign staff to a potential O’Malley run. While the Braley campaign was ultimately unsuccessful, they employed many very talented mid- and lower-level staffers throughout the state. The networks and loyal volunteers those campaigners built up would be extremely useful when tapped into by a field staff deployed around the state.
That could give O’Malley a leg-up in the early organizing race against Hillary Clinton. While the Clinton campaign still has a grassroots network left over from her last Iowa Caucus run, few of her 2008 Iowa staff remain. Any future Clinton campaign will now have to compete with key former Braley insiders for the most talented crop of Iowa staff.
The move by O’Malley will also likely be a welcome one by Iowa Democrats growing increasingly nervous about whether or not they’ll have a competitive caucus on their side. As Starting Line mentioned last week, O’Malley visited the state seven times in 2014, the second-most of the potential 2016 candidates. His PAC sent several of his staffers to help work on key Iowa Democrats’ campaigns in 2014, a strategy that now appears to paying off.