Think Tanks: When The Exec. Director Joins A Political Campaign
For me the big news of Romney's advisory team lineup wasn't the absence (or removal) of Margaret Spellings but rather the presence of John Chubb, who is also the newish interim ED at Education Sector. How's that going to work? It's not exactly clear.
Though they often help out behind the scenes, think tank EDs usually avoid taking on official partisan duties like this -- or at least take leaves of absence (as Jon Schnur did during the 2008 campaign). Among other reasons, this is usually to preserve the veneer of independence and to ensure that funders and other candidates don't get mad at them. Others may remember better, I can't think of another education think tank ED -- Jennings, Haycock, Finn -- who's taken on such a role, at least not officially. (That's one of the reasons the Romney announcement notes "Company/organization names are provided for identification purposes only.")
Independence and credibility is especially an issue for Education Sector, which was founded as a quasi-journalistic think tank whose independence was a top priority. Two of its first three heads -- Tom Toch and Richard Colvin -- were journalists rather than political types.
Anyway, I've asked EdSector whether the board knew about and approved of Chubb's joining the Romney team and am curious what happens next. So far it doesn't seem to have been much of an issue. Chubb blogged about the Romney plan on the EdSector here, disclosing his dual roles. But I can imagine a lot of discussion internally, and some hand-wringing among the other analysts (Carey, Silva, etc.). Some of them may have already been fed up by the Rotherham-Toch-Colvin churn. On the other hand, the move could help EdSector attract funding and attention.