Scozzafava Hires Old Hands

ALBANY—Assemblywoman Dede Scozzafava is staffing up for her bid to replace John McHugh in Congress.

She had help out of the gate from Capitol Public Strategies, the firm where David Catalfamo and Bill McGahay hang their shingle. Both have ties to the Pataki administration and McGahay was a longtime aide to former GOP state chairman Sandy Treadwell. The firm will stay on as a media consultant.

Matt Burns has been hired as the campaign's spokesman. The Canton native last year served as spokesman for the Republican National Convention in Minneapolis, and prior to that was also a Pataki administration veteran.

Scozzafava's team also includes Ed Lurie, formerly the executive director of the Senate Republican Campaign Committee until he resigned in the wake of a special election defeat in the North Country. He is coming on as a general consultant.

Finally, Michael Backus, McHugh's field director, is also "in discussions" with the Scozzafava campaign, he confirmed to me by phone.

McHugh is still a sitting representative and can't be confirmed until the Senate returns from recess on September 7; Backus remains employed in his office.