Changes to Thune Fundraising Staff Sends Mixed Signals

The 2012 mystery “continues as Sen. John Thune has cut ties with a prominent Washington, D.C., fundraiser,” Roll Call reports.

Roll Call has learned that Thune dropped Lisa Spies as his fundraiser, and in her place he hired Paula Dukes and Laura Rizzo.

An aide to the South Dakota Republican on Monday confirmed the move but declined to comment further.

The staff changes could be interpreted in multiple ways for those trying to gauge whether Thune, who serves as the Senate GOP Policy Committee chairman, is going to pull the trigger on a 2012 presidential run.

Spies specializes in raising money from political action committees in Washington, but she also has an extensive national reach, while Dukes and Rizzo are viewed as more traditional D.C.-oriented PAC fundraisers. Dukes was the PAC director at the National Republican Senatorial Committee last cycle. Accordingly, Thune’s decision to hire Dukes and Rizzo could signal that he is not inclined to run for president.

However, one of Spies’ clients is Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.), who is also mulling a White House bid. It is possible that she and Thune separated because of the conflict that would ensue if both Republican Members enter the GOP presidential primary.

Kyle Downey, a spokesman for Senator Thune, “did not dispute a story in South Dakota’s Argus Leader newspaper that a top Thune supporter based in New Hampshire, businessman Greg Slayton, has been making calls in the first-in-the-nation primary state to determine the level of support for the Senator.”

“Greg’s a friend from way back, and he’s been involved in some of my Senate campaigns, and we’ve had a number of discussions,” Thune told the Argus Leader in a story published Saturday. “But I think we’ve made it clear that we haven’t made any final decisions. … He’s on the ground there, and he’s got a good feel for it, and he’s very connected, politically, to what’s happening in the state.”

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