Walz shakes up campaign team

U.S. Rep. Tim Walz takes questions after declaring his candidacy for governor inside the State Office Building in St. Paul, Minn. on Monday, June 4, 2018.

Democrat Tim Walz reshaped his governor campaign leadership team Thursday, replacing his manager and bringing in a new communications director as the race heads into a three-way primary battle.

Walz, a southern Minnesota congressman since 2007, hired Leah Solo to run the campaign and lured Kayla Castañeda from the DFL Party to be his chief spokesperson. The moves follow his loss to state Rep. Erin Murphy in the state DFL convention endorsing contest. Those two will also face Attorney General Lori Swanson in the Aug. 14 primary after she joined the race on Monday.

Solo has done past work for the SEIU Minnesota, the Human Rights Campaign and Minnesota United for All Families, which was formed to defeat the gay marriage ban on the 2012 ballot. Solo also had a lead role in former Secretary of State Mark Ritchie's 2010 re-election campaign.

"As long as I’ve known her, Leah has had a passion for delivering results for progressive candidates and causes," Walz said in a news release. "She’s an enormous asset to our team heading into the primary.”

Solo replaces Nick Coe, who had managed the Walz effort through the convention. He will step back to an advisory role with the campaign.

The Castenada hire is noteworthy, too. She is leaving the DFL Party just as it gets ready to defend Murphy as the endorsed candidate.

Castenada has previously worked as a spokesperson for U.S. Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut. She began her new assignment Thursday.

Walz dropped out of the endorsing contest after seven ballots. He said coming into the convention he would go to a primary regardless of the outcome last weekend in Rochester.

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