Major staff shakeup expected in Miller campaign

Aruna Miller’s congressional campaign is expected to announce a major staff shakeup today, according to two sources with knowledge of Miller’s plans.

Sources tell A Miner Detail that Miller, who is running to succeed John Delaney in Maryland’s 6th Congressional District, is set to bring on Shelia O’Connell, a well-known and well-connected political veteran political operative.

U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) hired O’Connell in 2015 to run his Senate campaign. She was later replaced in May 2016 by Patrick H. Murray, the former executive director of the Maryland Democratic Party and chief of staff to Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr.

O’Connell, a Kensington resident, previously served as the Maryland state director for President Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign, and she worked as a strategic adviser to pass marriage equality in Maryland in 2012.

The former Van Hollen staffer spent two election cycles as political director at EMILY’s List, an abortion-rights group that endorsed Miller’s congressional bid last year.

O’Connell will join the campaign as its general consultant and Sondra Milkie, a former Wisconsin political operative, has been moved to a senior advisor position.

A Miller campaign email blast last Saturday announced two additional campaign staffers: Emilie Schwarz, Miller’s call-time manager and Lauren Zehyoue, who is serving, for now, as the campaign’s communications director.

Zehyoue confirmed yesterday with A Miner Detail that Miller’s campaign is a “growing campaign” and that a press release announcing staff chances is expected “tomorrow.”

Miller has raised the most campaign cash among her congression competitors and has garnered several high-profile endorsements, including the Maryland chapter of the National Education Association, the Sierra Club, and many more.

However, millionaire liquor retailer David J. Trone has dropped millions of his own fortune into the race and has saturated the district – Garrett to Montgomery County – with television ads, campaign mailers, billboards, social media ads, and large campaign signs. Trone’s staff includes several well-known campaign operatives, including pollster Harrison Hickman and transportation lobbyist Rich Parsons.

State Democrats say Miller is locked in a three-way race with Trone and state Sen. Roger Manno (D-Silver Spring), both of whom do not live in Maryland’s 6th Congressional District.

Miller is a two-term state delegate who has represented District 15 since 2011 in the Maryland House of Delegates. She and her husband, David, live in Darnestown and have three children.

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