Good Personnel as Good Politics: The Eric Teetsel Hire Pays Off For Rubio

The Leadership Institute’s Morton Blackwell has long had a list of rules for public policy fights. One of those rules is that personnel is politics. Good personnel make great politics and great policy. Marco Rubio showed that today.

A while back the Rubio team hired Eric Teetsel as Director of Faith Outreach. Teetsel is a young evangelical as familiar with the heartland as he is the beltway. Having been active in evangelical politics and the fight for traditional marriage, Teetsel is trusted by many of the evangelical leaders in the country.

But more importantly, Teetsel does not have the baggage that a lot of evangelical “political consultants” have. Teetsel is a Christian first, where a number of evangelical political consultants were Republican first and found evangelical politics to be their angle. There are a lot of people out there who not only expect their rings to be kissed and expect to be fought over for hiring. And most of those folks are not really good at what they do nor are they really trusted. They get meetings more because the evangelical leaders they connect to feel sorry for them or know they are going to be pestered relentlessly.

Not so with Teetsel. He is a quiet, smart operator, who remains both very humble and is perfectly comfortable behind the scenes making things happen. Today, he made something happen for Marco Rubio.

Rick Warren, one of the most popular Protestant pastors in America, and Wayne Grudem, one of the most prominent theologians in the country, both came out in support of Marco Rubio. Grudem is a force to be reckoned with academically. I use Grudem’s Systematic Theology in seminary. Likewise, Warren is a household name among evangelicals.

To be sure, Warren and Grudem getting on board Rubio’s campaign does not mean evangelicals will line up. But it makes it easier for Rubio to get access to other church leaders who trust Grudem and Warren. It gives Rubio access to larger pools of people wherein he can make his case. The direct benefits are small, but the indirect benefits are huge.

Eric Teetsel was a smart hire by Rubio, but a wildcard hire because Teetsel is rather new to this sort of organizational politics for Presidential candidates. He is proving his worth and is going to become a much sought after evangelical leader whenever his tenure with Rubio ends.

Huge and Impressive Hire By Marco Rubio

“In an area where there are a lot of charlatans, Rubio has hit a home run on a hire to woo evangelicals.”

If you’ve paid attention to the “evangelical insiders” poll from the well respected World magazine, you’d see that Marco Rubio does very well with evangelicals. It’s true. Rubio is constantly talked about in gatherings of Christians. They like the guy. I know a number of people who have shifted from other candidates to Rubio within the evangelical community.

Rubio also intends to pursue evangelicals aggressive and it shows. He just hired Eric Teetsel. Eric, for those of you who do not know him, was the Executive Director of the Manhattan Declaration, a “call of Christian conscience” on life, marriage and religious liberty signed by more than 550,000 believers that was founded by the late Chuck Colson, Robby George, and other faith leaders in 2009. Before the Manhattan Declaration, Eric worked at the American Enterprise Institute, where he helped build and launch the Values & Capitalism project.

Where other candidates are hiring folks from the dying “Moral Majority” coalitions of the past, Eric Teetsel is plugged into those power centers, but has transcended them. He’s of a more youthful generation of Christian evangelicals who respects past contributions, but is also focused on the future and not nursing past grievances.

This is a really sharp hire. Through his work with the Manhattan Declaration, Eric is plugged in to some of the most prominent evangelical leaders and pastors in the United States. He is trusted by evangelicals because of his strong stance on marriage and by those outside the evangelical community because of his willingness to debate in good faith on issues.

The other candidates need to take notice of this. In an area where there are a lot of charlatans, Rubio has hit a home run on a hire to woo evangelicals.

Disclosure: I’m part of the “evangelical insiders” survey by World.