Consultant with local ties named Ted Cruz’s presidential campaign state director

PRESIDENT | In the end, Bay Area Republican political consultant Jason Scalese not only got his client’s Democratic challenger to properly pronounce his opponent’s name in last year’s Tenth State Senate District race, but also guided a political novice out of obscurity to the November General Election. Republican Peter Kuo later lost out to Bob Wieckowski, but both their statures were raised by the surprising showing.

Now, Scalese is helping Texas Sen. Ted Cruz get the attention of California conservatives. Cruz’s presidential campaign tapped Scalese Tuesday as its state director. “I believe that the Senator is a once in a generation leader who will protect religious liberty, defend our country and our constitution, and make us proud to call him our President,” said Scalese, who vows to make California “Cruz Country.”

Scalese is the managing partner of  Fusion Strategies, a Republican consulting firm based in Burlingame. He held similar positions for the presidential campaigns of Newt Gingrich, Herman Cain and Fred Thompson.

In the East Bay, Scalese led Kuo through a contentious June primary in 2014 that featured multiple hit pieces and mean-spirited attacks between Wieckowski and former Assemblymember Mary Hayashi. The battle between two Democrats allowed Kuo to advance to November, but the use of State Senate Amendment-5, a proposal exploited by conservatives to charge Democrats with bringing back affirmative action in state college admissions was deftly used in this race.

Scalese under Kuo, focused the issue on the district’s large Asian American voter pool and bred resentment against SCA-5 and, more importantly, strong fundraising numbers for Kuo, an insurance broker who never before ran for public office. The strategy did not move Kuo to the top in November, but gave some Democrats pause for its ability to potential convert Asian American voters into Republicans down the line.