Rand gets a campaign manager, Christie gets a PAC

Sen. Rand Paul took a step toward a 2016 run Tuesday, naming a prospective campaign manager for a prospective run:

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) on Tuesday announced the hiring of a campaign manager for his likely 2016 presidential bid, part of an aggressive effort to build a national political team as the race for the White House heats up.

The hiring of strategist Chip Englander, who recently guided a gubernatorial candidate to victory in Illinois, marks a clear step forward for the Kentucky Republican as he prepares to transform his cadre of loyalists into a full-scale campaign.

Doug Stafford, Paul’s longtime confidant, will remain as his chief political adviser. In an interview Tuesday, Stafford said he will rely on Englander “for the day-to-day execution” of Paul’s operation.

The move underscores Paul’s unorthodox approach to presidential politics and his expected candidacy, with plans to put an emphasis on outreach to the poor and younger voters while also courting conservative activists in early-primary states.

In an interview Tuesday, Englander argued that Paul’s unconventional positions would lay the foundation for a potent Republican coalition. Paul has articulated mostly non-interventionist views on foreign policy, while taking hardline stances against tax hikes and President Obama’s health-care law domestically.

“America has intractable problems and it’s going to take a transformational leader to fix them,” Englander said. “Senator Paul is going to be the bold, transformational figure in this race.”

Certainly, a strategist coming off an Illinois win is not the first thing one would think of for a Republican primary run, but Gov. Bruce Rauner has thus far frozen spending in a blue state, forgone his salary, and refused benefits, so I’m willing to give Englander a hearing. (That being said, Gov. Bob McDonnell’s term started out with similarly good signs, so these things have been known to go south.)

Rauner’s first action as governor was to freeze non-essential spending in all state agencies.

“Taxpayers’ money belongs to them; not the government. We have a moral obligation to minimize how much we take and to ensure what we do take is spent efficiently and effectively,” Rauner said. “Every dollar we spend unnecessarily inside government is a dollar we can’t put into classrooms or social service providers, or leave in the pockets of entrepreneurs and homeowners.”…

“To the people of Illinois, and the people outside our state who have been reluctant to invest in Illinois because of the insider deals and cronyism, I say this: I’m nobody that nobody sent,” Rauner said.

Meanwhile, Gov. Chris Christie will have the not-so-tough task in front of him of…picking a better PAC name than Right to Rise:

Gov. Chris Christie is preparing to take his first concrete step toward a presidential campaign by setting up a leadership political action committee as early as this month that could help finance political travel and provide a fund-raising vehicle for would-be donors, according to three supporters involved in the discussions.

Mr. Christie is unlikely to make a formal announcement of his presidential ambitions before the end of the spring — timing that would allow his team to evaluate any further fall-out from federal investigations into his administration — and his advisers and supporters have insisted that he is under little pressure to rush into an announcement. But the move will provide a signal of Mr. Christie’s seriousness to allies anxious over the flurry of attention surrounding potential rivals for the nomination.

The PAC would also provide a destination for donors eager to get behind Mr. Christie. Another potential 2016 candidate, Jeb Bush, the former governor of Florida, has already established a leadership PAC, Right to Rise, which shares its name with a new “super PAC” that has already begun soliciting contributions.

Awkward Hug PAC?