Three months after winning a heated Democratic primary, Governor Pat Quinn has hired a campaign manager for his general election battle against Republican Bill Brady and Green Rich Whitney. But in an unusual move, he's reached across state lines to find one.
Ben Nuckels managed the successful re-election campaign of Wisconsin's Lieutenant Governor Barbara Lawton in 2006. Since then, he has served as Lawton's chief of staff, leaving only to work on her short-lived campaign for governor last year.
Nuckels was born and raised in Carroll, Iowa, where he graduated from Carroll High School in 1997. He went on to attend Governors State University in University Park, Illinois. In 2004, he moved to Milwaukee to work as the Wisconsin Field Director for the League of Conservations Voters' Kerry/Edwards campaigning.
Son of Marsha and Steve, he married Jacqueline Chada, a Milwaukee attorney, in January 2007.
And like Pat Quinn's recently selected running mate, Sheila Simon, Nuckels is also a musician. While Simon plays bassoon in a folk group, Loose Gravel, Nuckels played drums in his high-school alt-rock band, Pang.
The Quinn campaign was pleased with the hire. "We talked to a lot of different people" before determining Nuckels was the best, campaign spokeswoman Mica Matsoff told the Chicago News Cooperative.
But some in Illinois have their doubts. Rich Miller of the Capitol Fax blog is one of them, writing: "Quinn waits over three months to hire a campaign manager, but he's a young out-of-stater who hasn't run anything in Illinois. Welcome to the bigtime, Mr. Nuckels. Good luck. You're gonna need it."
Nuckels will replace John Kamis, who managed the governor's primary bid. With Quinn regularly polling 7-10 points behind his Republican opponent, he'll have his work cut out for him.