Political Insider

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Donald Trump's campaign to beef up its staff in Georgia

Donald Trump's campaign is increasing its staff in Georgia as Hillary Clinton rumbles about competing in the Peach State.

Days after Clinton's campaign hired a new senior adviser in Georgia, Trump's operation said it was adding two new staffers to its Atlanta operation: Jennifer Hazelton, a former TV producer, to handle communications and Billy Kirkland, a veteran of Sen. David Perdue's campaign, to serve as senior strategist.

“We have assembled an all-star team dedicated to keeping Georgia in the Republican win column," said Brandon Phillips, Trump's Georgia state director. "We are committed to taking Mr. Trump’s message to all Georgians, and turning the enthusiasm of this grassroots movement into votes to win in November.”

It came the same day the Trump campaign announced a broader shakeup at the top ranks, promoting pollster Kellyanne Conway to campaign manager and Stephen Bannon of Breitbart News to chief executive officer.

The staff moves are a significant measure of campaign resources, though the handful of staffers in Georgia are a small fraction of the hundreds of operatives flooding more competitive states.

Georgia hasn’t turned blue since Bill Clinton’s 1992 victory in the Peach State, but Georgia Democrats hope skepticism over Trump and changing demographics turn it into a tossup state. Recent polls seem to bolster their case: An Atlanta Journal-Constitution poll released this month showed Clinton with a slight edge over Trump in the state, and others show a tightening race.

And every dollar both campaigns spend here is a dollar they're not spending in Ohio and other traditional battleground states.

Whether Clinton's campaign intends to compete in Georgia or force Trump to play defense in a traditionally red state remains to be seen. But the campaign is stepping up its efforts in Georgia.

Clinton's camp signaled Sunday it would send Tracey Lewis, a veteran Democratic strategist who was a top adviser to 2014 Senate candidate Michelle Nunn, to Georgia as a senior adviser to coordinate grassroots activities. And her campaign pumped an initial six-figure sum to the Georgia Democratic Party this week to hire field organizers.

More: Hillary Clinton boosts her efforts in Georgia

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About the Author

Greg Bluestein is a political reporter who covers the governor's office and state politics for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.