A Florida source tells NRO that yet another member of Gov. Jeb Bush’s close circle of advisers will soon sign up with Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney’s campaign. Mandy Fletcher worked on Gov. Bush’s re-election in ‘02 and then served as the political director for President Bush’s Florida effort in ‘04. She’s currently a top public affairs official in a politically active Florida law firm/lobby shop.
More important, Fletcher also serves as the executive director of The Foundation for Florida’s Future. Close followers of Gov. Bush’s career will recall that the foundation was the think tank he originally set up after losing his ‘94 run against then-Gov. Lawton Chiles (D). The entity gave Bush a platform to speak out on policy issues in between his initial loss and successful ‘98 gubernatorial bid. Bush, ever the policy wonk, resurrected the foundation earlier this year in preparation for his re-entry into private life; he’ll use it to keep a hand in the education issues he’s championed as governor, particularly school choice.
Notably, the finance director of the foundation is Ann Herberger, another Jeb Bush campaign veteran who’s signed on with Romney’s team.
Fletcher did not return a phone call seeking confirmation of her move, but a Romney spokesman admitted she would likely come on board in the near future.
Romney, as reported here last week, has fared well in targeting Jeb-world. What will be interesting to watch is if and when Gov-elect Charlie Crist comes out for Sen. John McCain. McCain made multiple appearances for Crist during the campaign and was with the candidate the day before the election when Crist stood up President Bush. Crist studiously dodged a question about his endorsement plans at the RGA, but is widely expected to get behind the front-runner.
Besides the millions of Republican dollars there are to be raised in the state, Florida could be especially key in the ‘08 cycle. There is talk among legislators about moving their primary up on the calendar and, before that, the potential for a high-profile presidential straw poll that would draw gobs of media attention.