June 8, 2015 / 7:03 PM / 2 years ago

Jeb Bush picks Republican veteran Danny Diaz as campaign manager

Republican presidential hopeful Jeb Bush, the former governor of Florida, addresses an economic summit hosted by Florida Gov. Rick Scott in Orlando, Florida, June 2, 2015.Steve Nesius

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Jeb Bush has picked a veteran of party politics, Danny Diaz, as his campaign manager in the race for the Republican presidential nomination, his team said on Monday, in what was seen as a surprise move.

Diaz' appointment was unexpected because Bush had believed to have penciled in another experienced political strategist, David Kochel, as his campaign manager when he hired him earlier this year.

Instead, Kochel will be chief strategist for the campaign, with a particular focus on organizing Bush support in the early voting states.

The Kochel and Diaz appointments, along with the naming of other top members of the Bush campaign, reflect an effort to put people in roles that "maximize their strengths," the Bush team said in a statement.

Kochel is a veteran of Iowa Republican politics. His skills will be put to the test in the state early next year when it hosts the first nominating contest on the road to the November 2016 presidential election.

"David can best position us for success by playing a key leadership role focusing on how Jeb wins primaries, caucuses, and ultimately the general election and Danny's skill at rapidly moving content and campaign organization makes him perfectly suited for running the day-to-day operations," said Bush senior adviser Sally Bradshaw.

Polls of Iowa Republican voters put Bush in the middle of the crowded Republican field with Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker leading the pack. Many conservatives remain skeptical of Bush, Florida governor from 1999 to 2007, who is expected to formally announce in Miami on June 15 that he is running for the White House.

Bush's campaign will split functions, with some duties done by a traditional campaign apparatus and others performed by his Right to Rise super PAC.

Diaz, 39, will lead the traditional campaign organization while Bush strategist Mike Murphy will be in charge of the super PAC. Murphy was the chief strategist for Bush in his campaigns for Florida governor.

Bradshaw, a longtime confidant to Bush, will continue to be a senior adviser.

Reporting By Steve Holland; Editing by Grant McCool and Jonathan Oatis

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