The Most Famous Republican You Never Met
Jeff Larson is settling in out in Washington D.C. these days after being named chief of staff for the Republican National Committee.
Larson was a fundraiser and an advisor for Republican U.S. Senator Norm Coleman (it was his apartment that Coleman famously lived in so cheaply in Washington) and gained some notoriety as the party activist that initially bankrolled Sarah Palin's wardrobe makeover in Minneapolis during the Republican National Convention in 2008.
Larson was executive director of the local host committee for the convention that year.
Most recently, he was finance chair for the Wisconsin Republicans, working for state party chair Reince Priebus. He led the GOP there to a win in the gubernatorial race, the defeat of Democratic U.S. Senator Russ Feingold and the takeover of the state Legislature.
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Larson is a North Dakota native who has served in all kinds of party jobs, from driving candidates around to executive director of the party in Delaware and up. He said he hopes that experience helps he and fellow GOPers get up to speed quickly.
The party is more than $20 million in debt and Larson's well-known fundraising ability will likely be handy. He formerly ran FLS connect, once considered one of the biggest and most succesful political telemarketing operations in the world.
"I bring a lot of experience of serving as an executive director of a state party, in the political shop as a regional political director," Larson said in an interview today. "Experience in the convention and certainly raising the money for the convention and what that took. As well as the small dollar stuff in the finance division."
Larson came to Minnesota about 20 years ago, during the Jon Grunseth run for governor -- a1990 campaign in which future governor Tim Pawlenty played a prominent role. Larson has also raised money for Mitt Romney.
But he said it'll be the party members, not the staff, that will be picking the next Republican nominee for president. His connections won't be the ones that count.
He said he wouldn't put much stock in Wisconsin's sudden prominence in national Republican politics, either.
"I don't think, regionally, it was anything. But at the same time, I think the Midwest clearly is an important part of the country and someplace that the Republican Party has to do well in 2012. And I think we're putting the building blocks in place to do that."
Larson has moved out to DC for his new gig, but says Minnesota and the Twin Cities haven't seen the last of him.
"I'll be back," Larson says. "I'll be here full time for two years, but my roots and home are still going to be in Hudson and Wisconsin. But I'm looking forward to it. I think its going to be a great experience."