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For his latest addition to the top staff at Republican Party headquarters in Washington, national Republican Chairman Michael Steele has picked up a highly regarded operative, Gentry Collins, to be the RNC's political director.

Collins was the Midwest regional campaign director for John McCain's 2008 presidential campaign, a job he won after running Mitt Romney's statewide operation in Iowa.

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In a statement, Steele said he was "thrilled to announce the addition of Gentry to the RNC team. He brings with him a proven record of success at building broad bases of grassroots and volunteer coalitions."

The former Maryland lieutenant governor went on to say, as party chairman, his "primary task a the RNC is to grow our party and elect more Republicans and this appointment allows us to take another step towards those goals."

Collins has a solid working familiarity with his party's operation in Washington, having served as national political director for the Republican Governors Association and as an assistant to then House Majority Leader Dick Armey of Texas.

An Iowa native with a political science degree from Iowa State University, Collins has also served as executive director and deputy chairman of the Republican Party of Iowa.

His hiring adds to a growing number of top positions that Steele has filled in recent weeks. He cleaned house at the party's office on Capitol Hill shortly after his election in January, with the number of those who either quit or were fired estimated at somewhere in the 70 to 100 range.

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