One of the more obscure but abiding aspects of the “invisible primary” for president is that staff as well as candidates position themselves well in advance: not just by which potential POTUS they work for, but just as importantly where they work. After all, you can change candidates like a sweater, but having an in-depth knowledge of Wyoming politics will only get you so far.

So you will constantly see young and talented campaign staffers gravitate towards down-ballot races (or party gigs) in early presidential caucus and primary states, either on the instructions of their political patrons, or as free agents seeking to enhance their market value. Such service is sometimes called “punching a ticket for the presidential,” and it’s why you see stories like this one from TPM’s Eric Lach:

One of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s (R) spokesmen left his job earlier this week to begin serving as campaign manager for former Sen. Scott Brown’s (R-MA) Senate run in New Hampshire, according to WMUR.

Colin Reed had served as Christie’s deputy communications director. He previously served as communications director for Brown’s unsuccessful 2012 re-election bid in Massachusetts.

“I’ve known Scott for more than four years,” Reed told WMUR. “An opportunity to work with him again is something I couldn’t pass up. I am excited for the next seven months and a victory in November.”

Now in this case the staffer had a preexisting relationship with the candidate, and you can make the argument that being a Senate campaign manager is a step up from being a deputy communications director for a governor, despite the much lower job security (getting out of the intense media scrutiny Team Christie is experiencing could be yet another factor, of course). But something tells me Reed might have been less eager to rejoin his buddy Scott if his buddy Scott hadn’t switched states to the one that holds the first presidential primary every four years. Whatever else is going on, Colin Reed is “punching a ticket for the presidential.”

It would be interesting to know, however, whose idea this was. Notes Lach:

As WMUR pointed out, Reed’s move to New Hampshire also puts a second former Christie aide in a top spot in the state’s Republican party. Matt Mowers, who worked for Christie’s re-election campaign last year, is currently the executive director of the New Hampshire Republican Party.

It may not ultimately matter if these dudes fled or are on a mission from The Boss. If Christie somehow gets over his current troubles and emerges looking Viable, it would be the most natural thing in the world if his two old hands emerged as the nucleus of his New Hampshire team. And if not, Reed and Mowers may be hot properties up for sale. Either way, I bet they’ve seen the last of Trenton for a good long while.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore is a political columnist for New York and managing editor at the Democratic Strategist website. He was a contributing writer at the Washington Monthly from January 2012 until November 2015, and was the principal contributor to the Political Animal blog.