Gov. Romney Appoints New RGA Executive Director

by Nathan L. Gonzales November 18, 2005 · 9:07 AM EST

The Republican Governors Association is making a top-level staffing move on the eve of a very challenging election cycle, and potential 2008 presidential candidate and current Gov. Mitt Romney (R) is in the middle of it.

RGA Executive Director Mike Pieper is set to become managing director at R&R Partners, Inc., in their Washington, D.C. office, in January. Pieper was originally appointed to the RGA post by Nevada Gov. Kenny Guinn (R), who is also chairman of the RGA, and has served as executive director for one year. Deputy Executive Director Victoria Soberinsky is also leaving the RGA to join R&R Partners in January.

According to sources familiar with the situation, Phil Musser of the Dutko Group has been appointed by Gov. Romney, the vice chairman of the RGA, to replace Pieper.

Even though Pieper’s predecessor, Ed Tobin, served as executive director for two and a half years, this move is not particularly unusual. RGA chairmen are elected by their peers to serve one-year terms and often bring their own top level staff with them.

At their winter meetings in a couple weeks, the GOP governors are expected to elect Romney as chairman and Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue as vice chairman for 2006. With races for governor in Iowa and New Hampshire next year, Romney may be looking to oversee a strong showing in those important early primary states (and nationwide) next year in an effort to boost his 2008 presidential candidacy.

Prior to the RGA, Pieper worked as a top aide to Gov. Guinn, managed Barbara Vucanovich’s successful 1986 congressional campaign and served as her chief of staff until 1996. Pieper was also a former associate staff member for the House Appropriations Committee.

Musser is currently Vice President at Dutko Worldwide. He is a former deputy chief of staff at the Department of Housing and Urban Development, under both Mel Martinez and Alphonso Jackson. Musser was also a Lead Advance Representative for Bush-Cheney 2000 and senior staff member for the 2001 Presidential Inaugural Committee.

UPDATE: RGA Political Director Steve Treubner is also leaving the committee at the end of the year. The former aide to Gov. Bill Owens is returning to Colorado to open his own political consulting business, Truebner, Inc.

Nathan L. Gonzales