Hartwig Takes Leave from H&K to Manage Political Campaign
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Hartwig Takes Leave from H&K to Manage Political Campaign

Ron Hartwig, for 12 years the general manager of Hill & Knowlton’s Los Angeles operations, is taking a leave of absence from the firm and will serve as chief executive officer to former L.A. mayor Richard Riordan's gubernational bid.

Paul Holmes

LOS ANGELES, November 5—Ron Hartwig, for 12 years the general manager of Hill & Knowlton’s Los Angeles operations, is taking a leave of absence from the firm and will serve as chief executive officer to former L.A. mayor Richard Riordan as he runs for the Republican nomination for the governor of the state of California.
 
Hartwig, who has spent most of his 20-year career at H&K working in the consumer marketing and social marketing arenas—for clients such as Mazda and state health department—is returning to the world of politics, where he last served as one of the few Republican appointees in the Carter administration, as a public affairs director in the U.S. Department of Commerce.
 
“I decided we had a good, strong management team in place in Los Angeles, and I felt they could do just as well if not better without me while I took this opportunity to do something I really believe in,” says Hartwig, who worked with Riordan on a number of projects in the past: he was a member of the mayor’s task force on fiscal reform and also worked on public safety issues—the strengthening of the L.A. police department—and charter reform.
 
Hartwig will be succeeded on an interim basis by Bonnie Goodman, head of the firm’s west coast healthcare practice and a 12-year H&K veteran. The firm’s U.S. president, Tom Hoog, says he is hopeful Hartwig will return to H&K after the primary or—if Riordan wins the Republican nomination—after the election next year.
 
“While we will miss him, I am thankful  not only for what Ron has achieved at Hill and Knowlton, but also his very clear wishes to return,” says Hoog, who adds that Hartwig leaves behind “one of the strongest management teams in the H&K network.” Indeed, the L.A. office has been a consistent performer for the agency. Under Hartwig’s leadership it was largely immune to the troubles that roiled H&K during the late 80s and early 90s, and is the largest PR firm in L.A. with fees last year in excess of $19 million.
 
In addition to Goodman, the firm promoted Steve Price, chief financial officer, to chief operations officer for the state of California.
 
Hartwig, meanwhile, will be working with a communications team that includes Dennis Hunt, a political veteran who has held senior positions with Deaver & Hannaford and Stoorza Ziegaus & Metzger before becoming a partner at Pacific Visions Communications, who will serve as chief operations officer. “Dennis has more of a political background than I do,” says Hartwig. “My experience is more in my personal relationship with mayor and in my organizational experience.”
 
Other team members include senior strategy and advertising adviser Don Sipple, a longtime Republican strategist whose clients have included former Sen. Bob Dole and former Gov. Pete Wilson; and Fred Steeper, who was one of President Bush’s pollsters during last year’s campaign.
 
Riordan has faced criticism from one of his Republican rivals, Secretary of State Bill Jones, for donating money to Democrats and for involving Democrats in his campaign. The communications team consists entirely of Republicans, however.
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