Paul N. Bennecke (born 1978), an American political consultant for candidates of the Republican Party, is the Executive Director of the Republican Governors Association. He was appointed to that position in December 2014, having previously served as Deputy Executive Director and Political Director of the RGA from January 2007 to January 2011.
Bennecke was born in Chattanooga, TN, and attended Dalton State College, then transferred to the University of Georgia. At 21, he was selected as an alternate delegate to the 2000 Republican National Convention in Philadelphia. At 23, he served as Political Director for the campaign to elect St. Sen. Sonny Perdue to the Georgia Governorship. Perdue won despite being heavily outspent by incumbent Democrat Roy Barnes. Subsequently he was named Political Director, and later Executive Director of the Georgia Republican Party, serving under chairman Alec Poitevint. During this 2003-06 period at the Georgia GOP, Republicans seized control of the State House of Representatives (a net gain of 34 seats) and the State Senate (net gain of 8 seats). The party also elected a Lieutenant Governor and Secretary of State, as well as re-electing Perdue in 2006, the first Republican in 134 years to serve as Governor.
Throughout these years, Bennecke had worked with Nick Ayers, Perdue's 2006 campaign manager. Perdue was elected to a one-year stint as RGA Chairman, and he named Ayers as Executive Director and Bennecke as Political Director. The two young Georgians conceived an unprecedented four-year plan to professionalize the committee's operation and implement a long-range strategy, leading up to the 2010 midterm elections, when 37 Governors would be elected. Their plan was accepted by the Governors, and Ayers and Bennecke served through four gubernatorial cycles encompassing all 50 states. When the two began at RGA, Republicans were reeling from a terrible 2006 cycle, and held only 22 statehouses. When they left in early 2011, the GOP held 29 Governorships, a net gain of seven (including Ohio, Michigan, New Jersey, Wisconsin and Virginia). Bennecke oversaw a budget totalling $35 million in 2007-09, which rose to more than $100 million for 2010 alone.
In the intervening years (2011-14), Bennecke founded his own political consulting firm (Red Clay Strategies), and then joined the Atlanta-based public-affairs firm, ConnectSouth, together with longtime associate Clint Austin. In November 2013, ConnectSouth affiliated itself with the Mississippi-based Capitol Resources LLC, whose partners include Henry Barbour.  He also formed Jenson Strategic Partners LLC in 2013.
Bennecke spent much of 2011 in Virginia, where he directed a PAC affiliated with Governor Bob McDonnell in its mission to regain control of the Virginia State Senate. The GOP scored a net gain of two seats that November, achieving a 20-20 tie (allowing Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling to cast tiebreaking votes in favor of the GOP for the next two years).
Continuing his work in the Old Dominion, Bennecke in March 2012 announced the formation of a federal SuperPAC, Independence Virginia PAC, whose sole purpose was to aid the bid of George F. Allen to the U.S. Senate. Allen ultimately lost his bid to Democrat Tim Kaine; Independence Virginia PAC spent $4.9 million to aid the Republican. Bennecke also worked for the independent America 360 Committee in Massachusetts to aid Sen. Scott Brown in his re-election effort; he was defeated by Democrat Elizabeth Warren. Bennecke's close cooperation in both races with Las Vegas billionaire GOP activist Sheldon Adelson was noted.
Republican setbacks in the 2013 Virginia statewide elections gave Democrats control of the State Senate through the ascension of Ralph Northam to the Lieutenant Governorship. Bennecke directed the campaign of B. Wayne Coleman to succeed Northam in the Democrat-leaning, Norfolk-based 6th District, falling short by 11 votes after a lengthy recount in January 2014. Persisting after the Coleman defeat months before, he directed the successful August 2014 special-election campaign of Ben Chafin to the Virginia State Senate, which returned complete control of the General Assembly to the Republicans.
Also in 2013 and for all of 2014, he served as general consultant to the David Perdue campaign for U.S. Senate in Georgia, guiding it to success through three hotly contested primary, runoff and general elections. His 2014 independent-expenditure efforts aided winning candidates in Illinois and Tennessee; further, Bennecke was hired to direct the RGA's IE campaigns in support of GOP gubernatorial nominees in Massachusetts, Kansas and Georgia (all of whom were elected that November).
Bennecke lives in Atlanta with his wife, the former Jennifer (Jen) Englert, and their son, Barron. Under Gov. Sonny Perdue, she served as top assistant to Georgia First Lady Mary Perdue, as Executive Director of the Georgia Children’s Trust Fund, and finally as Executive Director of the Governor’s Office for Children and Families (GOCF). She was reappointed to the GOCF post by Governor Nathan Deal in 2011, but resigned that fall.
- Interview On CNN, May 23, 2000, transcript at http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0005/23/nr.00.html
- Johnson, Eric, The Georgia Republican Party, 1856-2006, monograph, accessed at http://www.gilmergagop.org/files/GA_GOP_History.pdf
- Horowitz, Jason, Washington Post, 27 April 2010, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/04/26/AR2010042603992.html
- Mahoney, Ryan, Atlanta Business Chrincle, 1 December 2006, http://www.bizjournals.com/atlanta/stories/2006/11/27/daily41.html
- Four-year RGA plan referenced by Gov. Rick Perry in POLITICO, 12 November 2010, http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1110/45050.html
- Silverman, Amanda, He Hasn't Lost Anything Yet, The New Republic, 2 November 2009, http://www.tnr.com/article/politics/he-hasnt-lost-anything-yet
- http://redclaystrategies.com/dev/Red_Clay_Brochure.pdf. Also verified in RGA fundraising reports at www.irs.gov