WASHINGTON--President Obama's team made it official on Thursday: his 2012 re-election campaign will be based in Chicago and will formally kick-off in March or April. The Sun-Times has learned White House Social Secretary Julianna Smoot will be leaving to take on a large role in the drive for a second term, as a deputy campaign manager.
Obama headquartered his 2008 national campaign from a high rise at 233 N. Michigan Ave., an ideal location at the time since Obama was an Illinois senator living in Chicago and his top advisor--David Axelrod--and his top fund-raiser--Penny Pritizker--lived in the city and Chicago was a central jumping off for the early primary states.
Axelrod, now a senior White House advisor, will be leaving Washington in a few weeks to return to Chicago for the re-election campaign. A lease has not yet been signed on heaquarter office space.
The Chicago Sun-Times has confirmed:
*White House Social Secretary Julianna Smoot, the finance director who was key to creating and executing the fund-raising plan that allowed Obama to early on build a major national political organization will be leaving the East Wing to join the 2012 re-election campaign--in a larger capacity, deputy campaign manager.
*Deputy Chief of Staff Jim Messina will move to Chicago to manager the campaign. Messina has scheduled meetings in Chicago on Feb. 2 to re-connect with leaders from the 2008 campaign drive.
*The Democratic National Committee will start moving field resources to Chicago, including Mitch Stewart, the director of Organizing for America, which was the Obama for America 2008 successful grass roots effort. DNC executive director Jen O'Malley Dillon will move over to the 2012 campaign as the deputy campaign manager.
*The new DNC executive director will be Patrick Gaspard, who now runs the White House political office. That office, a Democratic official told me, will soon be closed and all political activity run out of the DNC and the re-elect campaign.