May Hires Jim Messina for U.K. Conservative Election Team

  • President Obama’s former campaign chief starts work for Tories
  • Messina returns to U.K. after success on 2015 Cameron campaign

U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May has hired President Obama’s former deputy chief of staff Jim Messina for her election campaign, reuniting the winning team behind David Cameron’s unexpected victory two years ago.

Messina and his colleagues arrived in London on Monday to begin work on May’s bid to secure a bigger majority for her Conservative Party and a fresh mandate for her vision of Brexit, a person working on the campaign said.

Jim Messina

Photographer: Julia Schmalz/Bloomberg

His appointment brings together the key figures in the team behind Cameron’s success in 2015. May has also hired Lynton Crosby, the political strategist, Mark Textor, the pollster and Crosby’s business partner, and the digital media specialists Craig Elder and Tom Edmonds, all of whom worked for the Cameron campaign.

The premier’s sudden decision to call an election last week took party activists and lawmakers of all stripes by surprise. The political parties are now scrambling to put their candidate lists and manifestos together ahead of the election on June 8.

With her decision to re-hire key figures in Cameron’s campaign team, May will be hoping that experience and a track record of success will deliver her a bigger majority in Parliament and put her in what her Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond called an “unassailable” position ahead of Brexit negotiations.

During the 2015 election battle, Messina was credited with playing a critical role for the Conservatives by targeting messages at specific voters who could be persuaded to switch from the Liberal Democrats.

Read more: These Charts Explain Why May Is Seeking Another U.K. Election

In addition to helping the party with digital engagement, Messina developed fine-grained analysis of voter types, enabling Tories campaigning on the ground to contact the right people in the run-up to polling day.

Messina previously worked as President Obama’s deputy chief of staff for operations in the White House and served as campaign manager for the Obama 2012 re-election bid. Last year, he advised Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, who took charge of a minority government in October.

— With assistance by Jennifer Jacobs

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