The influence of libertarian icon Ron Paul in the U.S. Senate race of his son, Rand Paul, appears to be growing.
Just as it did in the wake of controversy after the May 18 primary, the Rand Paul U.S. Senate campaign is enlisting help from his father's political sphere. The hiring of a new press secretary comes as Paul avoids questions about a seemingly harmless prank as a college student in the 1980's.
The Rand Paul Senate campaign has hired Gary Howard as the campaign's press secretary. Most recently, Howard was the Director of Media Relations at the Campaign for Liberty, the Beltway non-profit group that was founded by U.S. Rep. Ron Paul after his failed presidential bid in 2008.
Jesse Benton, who is married to Ron Paul's granddaughter (Rand Paul's niece), was named campaign manager in the wake of a series of controversial interviews after the May 18 primary. Benton had served as Senior Vice-President of the Campaign for Liberty.
Benton had replaced campaign manager David Adams, who was reassigned to the newly created position of Campaign Chairman in a move widely seen as a demotion. Adams eventually left the campaign to manage the gubernatorial campaign of Tea Party Republican Phil Moffett.
Though Rand Paul has warmed to establishment Republicans such as Kentucky's senior senator, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, the move serves to reassert Paul's independence from the formidable McConnell machine in the Bluegrass.
No word on how the move affects Ryan Hogan, who has served as Paul's spokesman.
"Gary will be a great addition to our team," Benton said in a statement, "He has some good experience and can help us quite a bit as we roll forward to the general election push."
The campaign added that "further announcements" are expected "in the coming weeks as the campaign gears up for the fall."
The move appears very similar to the Jack Conway campaign's recent hiring of a new communications director, John Collins. Conway’s campaign manager, Jonathan Drobis, and Collins both worked on Hillary Clinton's presidential bid and both worked on Democratic mayoral campaigns in New York City, albeit for different politicians.
As campaigns intensify, it is not uncommon for campaign managers to seek familiar and trusted comrades in arms.