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Marshall Cohen is the Political Director of the Democratic Governors Association. Over 7 years at the DGA, he's been involved in 50+ races - and before that was an accomplished operative who - in 2016 - managed (and won) the most expensive congressional primary in history. In this conversation, Marshall talks his path to working in politics, his best practices for running and winning races and goes deep on this cycle's top governor's Democrats pulled off upsets in several states, the messaging and strategic decisions that mattered, and lessons learned heading into the 2024 cycle. IN THIS EPISODEMarshall’s path to working in politics…How his New Jersey roots inform his political outlook…Marshall manages the winner in a 2016 House primary that was the most expensive congressional race in history at the time…Marshall breaks down the four factors it takes to be an effective campaign manager…How Marshall starts at the DGA & his theories of what makes governors’ races different…Marshall talks how he and the DGA have been successful winning in “red” states…Marshall talks the Virginia ’21 Governors race…how Youngkin won and why that didn’t signal a trend for ’22…Marshall rebuts the suggestion the DGA “meddled” in GOP primaries to elevate election-deniers…Marshall & Zac talk the 2022 Nevada Governor’s race…The “biggest surprise” for Marshall from the 2022 cycle…Marshall goes deep on several 2022 races, including Arizon, Kansas, and Wisconsin...Marshall talks Democratic difficulties breaking through in FL, GA, and TX…Marshall on lessons learned in 2022 that can be applied to the 2024 cycle…The media spending strategies that worked for the DGA in 2022…Marshall on the various “it factors” held by governors…AND American University, Lou Barletta, Andy Beshear, Matt Bevin, Sam Brownback, James Carville, Liz Cheney, Chris Christie, Roy Cooper, core competencies, Dan Cox, Shelbi Dantic, dead ducks, Ron DeSantis, the Dobbs decision, Doug Ducey, John Bel Edwards, Tony Evers, footsie, GW, Maura Healey, Katie Hobbs, Larry Hogan, Bobby Jindal, Doug Jones, Laura Kelly, Tina Kotek, Kari Lake, Joe Lombardo, Doug Mastriano, Kathleen Matthews, Pat McCrory, Tim Michels, Janet Mills, Wes Moore, Phil Murphy, north stars,  Beto O’Rourke, Panasonic, Corey Platt, political fiefdoms, Jamie Raskin, Derek Schmitt, self-realizations, Steve Sisolak, train conductors, David Trone, Donald Trump, Scott Walker, Tim Walz, The West Wing, Gretchen Whitmer, wine tasting, the Yuma County GOP & more!
Brendan McPhillips was the campaign manager for John Fetterman's general election campaign, helping guide it to a win over Dr. Oz in the cycle's most chaotic and closey watched Senate race. In this conversation, Brendan talks his path to politics that started in a community college in conservative Southern California and includes running Iowa for Buttigieg in the 2020 primaries and working as Biden PA State Director in the general election. And, of course, we go deep on Brendan's time with Fetterman...from meeting him over a decade ago, running his '16 Senate race, taking the helm of Fetterman 2022 this spring...the candidates, the stroke, the message, the attacks, the debate, and the win. IN THIS EPISODE…Brendan’s path from conservative Southern California to working in Democratic politics…Brendan runs Iowa for Pete Buttigieg in the 2020 primaries…Brendan crosses paths with John Fetterman over a decade ago…The Brendan McPhillips 101 on how to run a race in Pennsylvania…Brendan’s take on the Fetterman dominant primary win…Brendan takes the helm as manager on the heels of the primary win & health scare…Brendan breaks down the case the campaign made against Dr. Oz…How the campaign beat back the “soft on crime” attack…Brendan weighs in on the Mastriano Effect on the Senate race…Brendan takes aim at grifting Democratic Scam PACs…Deep inside the Fetterman vs Oz debate…Brendan’s expectations heading into Election Day…and his analysis of the 5-point Fetterman win…Brendan’s take on Pennsylvania’s status as a swing state heading into 2024…Lessons other campaigns can learn from the Fetterman win…AND Amtrak tours, annoying naysayers, Val Arkoosh, Tony Baker, Joe Biden, Bob & Barbara’s, George W. Bush, carbon copies, James Carville, Bob Casey, Dave Chase, crazy kitchen cabinets, dive bars, gas bills, GED classes, Andrew Gillum, Lindsay Graham, grocery clerks, HQ Analytics, Ben Halle, hard-ass bouncers, hucksters, Bill Hyers, interesting dudes, Iowa steak frys, Johnstown, Rebecca Katz, Conor Lamb, Malcolm Kenyatta, media buyers from DC, mega churches, Middle Seat, the New Jersey State Hall of Fame, Notre Dame, Barack Obama, old adages, off-track betting, phone trees, Ed Rendell, resident gofers, Mike Schmuhl, Rick Scott, Josh Shapiro, The Situation, Snookie, special sauce, South Bend, the Susquehanna, Temecula, thrilling the DCCC, the Turf Club, UFCW, VFW halls, weirdos, wild rides...& more!
Tim Persico, the Executive Director of the DCCC, provides a post-election debrief with his thoughts on all things 2022 House races. He gets under the hood as to how House Democrats beat the odds to exceed pundit expectations...and weighs in on the winning blend of messaging for candidates, the leadership provided by Chairman Sean Patrick Maloney and Speaker Pelosi, specific seats that helped Democrats buck the midterm trends, the tools and tactics the DCCC utlized this cycle, & much more with one of the key architects of House Democrats' impressive 2022 cycle.IN THIS EPISODE…The latest post-election math about control of the House…How previous DCCC post-mortems helped prep Tim run the organization…Tim’s macro view of how House Democrats overperformed expectations…Tim recounts the critical decision by DCCC Chair Maloney to take a risk and go for the majority instead of taking a more cautious approach to hold losses to a minimum…Tim’s take on whether Democrats won these races late or always had the advantage….Tim on what messaging worked well for Democratic candidates…Tim talks leadership lessons learned from Nancy Pelosi…A few seats Tim was confident Dems could win despite pundit skepticism…Tim’s initial thoughts on why New York was a tough state for House Dems…The DCCC’s approach to digital communications…Lessons learned from digesting hundreds of internal campaign polls…How Tim handled getting advice from a 220+ member Democratic Caucus…Tim evangelizes on why a finance background is a good path to rising up the ladder in politics…Tim compliments some of the strategies utilized by the NRCC…What Tim is most proud of from this cycle running the DCCC…AND American treasures, asymmetrical disadvantages, Michael Bennet, big thinking thoughts, building runways, Cheri Bustos, canaries in coal mines, Yadira Caraveo, cookie-cutter stuff, Karen Defilippi, Dirtbags, Isaac Fitzgerald, fully-formed human beings, Tommy Garcia, graybeards, the Hudson Valley, hybrid ads, late movers, left-handed Methodists, Elaine Luria, massive things, moon suits, Patrick Murphy, Wiley Nickel, noisy data, non-linear benefits, pet peeves, pipe bombs, a Pittsburgh Republican, pivot points, pre post-mortems, Christie Roberts, Chuck Schumer, sheer chaos, Eric Sorensen, sour electorates, Abigail Spanberger, special masters, Emilia Sykes, Tony Vargas, walkabouts, Jennifer Wextons, whisper quiet & more!
It's Election Day instead of more predictions and punditry, Rebecca Pearcey is back to dive into what political consultants talk about most amongst tips, hacks, and preferences. In this conversation, Rebecca and I discuss and debate best practices for aiports, flights, hotels, taxis, and all things being a political operative on the road. Hopefully this episode can be an enjoyable 51-minute escape during your Election Day (or aftermath) while waiting for votes to be cast and results to come in.Rebecca talks her intense travel experiences with Elizabeth Warren on the '20 campaign trail...A stark disagreement on how early to get to the airport before a flight...Butting heads on when it makes sense to check a bag for a flight...Aisle or window? How to choose your seat on the plane?During the on the plane? Sleep? Watch a movie?Rebecca's strong take on airline wifi...How loyal should you be to the big airline and hotel brands?Airport lounges: worth it or not?Zac on an underappreciated in-flight beverage...Best transportation to and from the airport...What should go into choosing a hotel?Agreement on a new option that should exist in hotel apps...Two very different perspectives on rental cars...Pearcey on packing...Pre-check and/or Clear: worthwhile or not?Zac's restaurant recommendation / attempt to get a sponsorship from a national chain...Rebecca and Zac give off-the-beaten-path travel destinations...
Maggie Haberman is, of course, the Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter who's covered the political rise of Donald Trump for the New York Times...and her new book, CONFIDENCE MAN: The Making of Donald Trump & The Breaking of America became an immediate best seller. In this conversation, Maggie dives into all things Trump...from his formative influences in the New York City of the 70s and 80s, to his political ascent, time in the White House, her take on the likelihood of another Trump run, what a Trump White House restoration would look like...and much more from perhaps the most authoritative voice on the Trump political phenomenon. IN THIS EPISODE…Maggie breaks down the influences that explain Trump’s political persona…The member of Congress with whom has had a decades-long feud…Maggie talks Trump’s ethos of “hate as a civic good”…Why Trump never wanted to be Mayor of New York City…Maggie talks the rise of Trump as a credible candidate in 2015…How Trump leveraged Twitter so successfully…Maggie on the connection between Trump and the National Enquirer…How Trump has recently lost allies among the conservative media…Why Trump as the “deal maker” fell flat in the White House…Maggie’s thoughts on Trump’s various legal entanglements, old and new…How Maggie thinks about the challenge of covering candidates who lie…Maggie’s instincts on a Trump 2024 campaign…The faces Maggie would expect to see around Trump in a second term…What it’s like to have 1-on-1 conversations with Trump…What’s surprised Maggie most about Trump’s behavior over the past year…The status of Trump relationships with names like Giuliani, McConnell, Bannon, Roger Stone...Some of Maggies favorite books and authors covering NYC politics...AND avenging angels, Bill Barr, Wayne Barrett, birtherism, Mike Bloomberg, E. Jean Carroll, catch-and-kill, the Central Park Jogger, Hillary Clinton, Michael Cohen, Roy Cohn, James Comey, conspiracy theories, convention speeches, covfefe, Andrew Cuomo, Mario Cuomo, Ron DeSantis, the Dobbs decisions, Meade Esposito,  the favor economy, Fox News, Stanley Friedman, Ric Grenell, Sean Hannity, instinctive racial paranoia, Andrew Kirtzman, Ed Koch, Jared Kushner, the Lavender Scare, Rush Limbaugh, low-interest federal loans, Donald Manes, John McCain, McCarthy acolytes, Mark Meadows, Andrew Meier, Robert Morgenthau, Rupert Murdoch, Muslim bans, Jack Newfield, NewsMax, Richard Nixon, OAN, George Pataki, Kash Patel, David Pecker, permanent enemies, Jeanine Pirro, Vladimir Putin, John Ratcliffe, rejecting objective reality, Seth Rich, rubber chicken dinners, Eric Schneiderman, Doug Schoen, Time Magazine, transactional media, Allen Weisselberg, white noise…. & more!
Nobody has a political career like JC Watts. Starting quarterback at the University of Oklahoma, NFL draft pick, several years in the Canadian Football League, the first Black statewide elected official in Oklahoma, 8 years in Congress rising to Conference Chair in the GOP leadership, and voluntarily leaving office with even greater political stardom likely in front of him. In this conversation, he talks his one-of-kind-story of a blue-collar kid from small town Eufala, OK to a high level pro athlete to a groundbreaking political figure - with one of the most unique perspectives in American politics. IN THIS EPISODEJC Watts' upbringing in rural Eufala, OK..The formative experience of playing football at the University of Oklahoma…The political roots of the Watts family…What leads him to run for office shortly after his football career ends…Lessons learned from his iconic coach Barry Switzer…Memories from early days in the House after his 1994 election…Congressman Watts talks what he learned about Native culture over the years…Inside the story of delivering the 1997 GOP Response to the State of the Union…Congressman Watts ousts John Boehner from the House GOP leadership after the ’98 elections…Inside the strategic and messaging disagreements among the GOP leadership…Congressman Watts talks the intoxicating “cheer of the crowd” present in politics…The two times he most seriously considered running for office after he left the House…The letter Rosa Parks wrote to Congressman Watts…Why he left the House after 8 years…The longtime political relationship between Congressman Watts and his successor Tom Cole…Congressman Watts talks being both a Black man and a strong Republican…His thoughts on the state of the Trump-led Republican Party of 2022…The current projects that he’s most excited about…AND Arkansas things, bellyachers, Sonny Bono, bootleggers, David Boren, the CFL, Julia Carson, cesspools and jacuzzis, Chattanooga, Dick Cheney, Donna Christensen, Bill Clinton, Tom Coburn, the Contract with America, the Creek Nation, Danny Davis, Tom Delay, disgruntled Democrats, dysfunctional conferences, economics 101, enterprise zones, FCA, Floyd Flake, George Floyd, Harold Ford Jr., Newt Gingrich, HBCUs, Denny Hastert, huge assignments, Jim Inhofe, Jesse Jackson, January 6th, Jack Kemp, knuckleheads, Langston University, lapel pins, Steve Largent, live bodies, Bob Livingston, Longhorn friends, Dave McCurdy, the NAACP, Don Nickles, opportunity zones, Ottawa, Pee Wee leagues, pow wows, private equity funds, pulpit experience, reading the blitz, redshirts, special sauce, The Selmon Brothers, the Sixth Sense, snowball effects, speechwriters, Mike Synar, Toronto, the United Nations, the Urban League, the USA Today, youth ministers, Zach Wamp & more!
Wesley Donehue has an unconventional background for a Republican consultant…growing up in public housing with two parents who struggled with drug addiction…but that upbringing fueled his passion to work in politics and his interest in crisis communications. In this conversation, we talk Wesley’s path to politics, his work as a digital consultant for big GOP names like Lindsay Graham, Marco Rubio, Herschel Walker, and many more – and his recent book Under Fire, which lays out his 13 rules for how candidates, campaigns, and organization should handle crisis.IN THIS EPISODE…How failing a college class leads Wesley to a career in politics…How Wesley gravitated to an expertise in digital politics…Wesley talks best practices for digital politics…Wesley talks about the role that digital played on Lindsay Graham’s $100M 2020 Senate re-election…Wesley on how anti-Trump candidates have gotten back into the good graces of Trump voters…Wesley on the best campaign managers he’s worked with…Wesley talks how his chaotic upbringing led him to the field of crisis communications…What led Wesley to write Under Fire, his new book on dealing with crisis and cancel culture…Wesley talks the most importance of his 13 rules to deal with crisis…Wesley cites a politician who handled crisis especially poorly…Wesley’s analysis of how Donald Trump handles crisis…Wesley on kitchen cabinets, preparation, and the question of apologies…Wesley touches on the recent crisis surrounding his firm’s client Herschel Walker…Wesley recounts when he personally faced an effort to “cancel” him…Wesley talks his habits that have helped him develop an energetic work ethic…Wesley’s recommendations when visiting his hometown of Charleston, SC…AND 1-star reviews, BLM, Calculus II, cold-and-flu season, cord cutters, Jim DeMint, Dow Chemical, earthquake plans, engineering majors, Ferraris, the gap and the gain, David Goggins, Trey Gowdy, Instagram, Ironman marathons, the King of Pop, the MCU, Pabst Blue Ribbon, pounds of flesh, Push digital, Joe Rogan, Mark Sanford, the scraps, Section 8 Housing, soul mates, stoicism, thin skin, Star Trek, U of South Carolina, Phil Vangelakos, vulnerability studies, yachts & more!
Julie Roginsky has one of the most unique stories in politics…as a 6-year old, she and her family flee their homeland in the Soviet Union to make their way to the Bronx…she’s drawn to campaigns and spends 20+ years in the trenches in New Jersey politics…she enters the world of cable news, working for 10 years as a Democratic voice on Fox News…ultimately leaving Fox after suing the network and chief Roger Ailes for sexual harassment…and starts Lift Our Voices with former Fox News colleague Gretchen Carlson to eliminate NDAs and other silencing mechanism that protect harassment in the workplace. This is a wide-ranging conversation that covers Julie’s fascinating life, time in campaign politics, and the important work she’s doing now.IN THIS EPISODE…The story behind Julie and her parents escaping their native USSR…Early memories of a 6-year old Soviet refugee growing up in NYC…Julie campaigns for a presidential candidate as an 11-year old…Julie changes her professional sights from foreign service to political campaigns…Julie’s brief excursion working for the UK Labour Party in London…Julie’s first New Jersey race and her NJ Politics 101 after 20+ years in state politics…Julie mines her years as a communications expert to offer some comms best practices…The story behind Julie’s years as a political commentator on Fox News…Julie addresses her departure from Fox News & the sexual harassment she filed against  Fox News and Roger Ailes…Julie starts Lift Our Voices with Gretchen Carlson to eliminate workplace NDAs that protect workplace harassment…Julie on the changing advice she gives to young people working in politics…Julie’s advice on how campaigns can protect proprietary information while not enabling a toxic workplace...AND…the 6 Train, Madeline Albright, Bombshell, George W. Bush, CNBC, Mary Beth Cahill, Gretchen Carlson, Chris Christie, Jon Corzine, Crayola, the deficit, distant cousins, economic sclerosis, EMILYs List, the Food Network, glasnost, Bernie Goetz, Mikhail Gorbachev, gulags, heroin alley, the Hotel Greystone, internecine primaries, the Iron Curtain, the Iron Sheik, JFK airport, Jersey girls, Jeane Kirkpatrick, Lenin, John Major, Walter Mondale, Rupert Murdoch, Northampton County, Frank Pallone, Perkins Coie, Zelda Perkins, Ronald Reagan, refuseniks, Condoleezza Rice, Susan Rice, Rutgers University, self-censorship, Yakov Smirnoff, Stalin, the Statue of Liberty, The Tea Party, Margaret Thatcher, Donald Trump, the WWF, Harvey Weinstein, Christine Todd Whitman & more!
Keiran Pedley is a veteran pollster, the Director of Politics for Ipsos/UK, and a regular presence in UK media offering analysis on the latest political data and developments. In this conversation, we set the table as to how the UK system is both similar and different than the US, cover the last few Brexit-fueled chaotic years in British politics, the current state of the Labour opposition, and turn to the rise of new Prime Minister Liz Truss and her tumultous first few weeks in office and implications for UK politics moving forward. Whether you're a novice or expert about British politics, you'll enjoy this conversation with Keiran.IN THIS EPISODE...Keiran gives a primer on the UK political system...Keiran talks political realignment across the UK over the past few years...The importance of the "red wall" in British politics...Keiran talks about the greater gender and racial diversity in the Conservative leadership than in the Labour Party...Keiran on the role Brexit has played on roiling UK politics for years...Keiran talks recent polling on views toward Brexit...Keiran on the downfalls of three consecutive Conservative Prime Ministers David Cameron, Theresa May, and Boris Johnson...Keiran talks the struggles among the Labour opposition over the same period...Keiran's analysis of current Labour leader Keir Starmer...Keiran on the ascent of new Conservative Prime Minsister Liz Truss...Keiran talks the recent economic upheaval in the UK financial system that has led to a rough start for Truss...Keiran's very early thoughts on the next British General Election...Keiran on the state of polling in UK politics...AND anti-Semitism, austerity, the BBC, bang-on polling, the Bank of England, Tony Blair, Britain Elects, Gordon Brown, by-elections, Winston Churchill, the central office, clarifying moments, Susan Collins, Jeremy Corbyn, devolution, the EU, economic competence, electoral quirks, Euro-skeptics, eye-watering figures, Nigel Farage, Fox News, freedom of movement, green benches, honeymoon periods, the House of Lords, Israel, Kwasi Karteng, Lib Dems, Liverpool, long-running sagas, Manchester, manifestos, Ed Miliband, New Jersey wives, Barack Obama, political disasters, Reaganomics, the SNP,  Bernie Sanders, short-lisitng, Matt Singh, stitch ups, Rishi Sunak, taking on Brussels, Jon Tester, Margaret Thatcher, trade unions, Donald Trump, UKIP, vociferous campaigning & more!
Lance Tarrance is one of the founding fathers of modern political polling. In this conversation, he talks what drew him into the world of GOP politics, an inflection point working at the US Census Bureau, going to work for Ronald Reagan’s pollster, then opening up his own firm The Tarrance Group. Lance goes deep on several of his interesting races...including beating Bill Clinton in his first gubernatorial re-elect in 1980, the upset Senate win of Mitch McConnell in 1984, his involvement in the California gubernatorial race that gave rise to the so-called “Bradley Effect”, his analysis predicting the rise of a Donald Trump-type candidate & many great stories and insights from his incredible career in politics.IN THIS EPISODE…Barry Goldwater inspires Lance to take his career in a dramatically different direction than he’d planned…Lance helps disrupt Hubert Humphrey in the ’68 Nixon campaign…How working for the US Census Bureau changed Lance’s life…Lance enters the world of political polling, working with Regan pollster Dick Wirthlin…Lance makes a professional bet on partisan realignment in the South & Sun Belt…The crosstabs that Lance used to help Republicans take the South…Lance helps engineer the defeat of Governor Bill Clinton in his 1980 re-election…Lance’s key role handling the polling for Mitch McConnell’s 1984 upset Senate win…The story behind the most famous US Senate ad ever for McConnell’s ’84 race…Lance elects a Republican Governor of California in 1982 amidst the so-called “Bradley Effect”…Lance’s prescient writing and analysis that (partially) anticipated the rise of Donald Trump…Lance on what makes an effective pollster…AND academic treatises, John Adams, Roger Ailes, American University, the American Voter Model, backwoods Kentucky, Vince Barabba, Blue Dogs, Bluetick hounds, Tom Bradley, Ron Brownstein, CVS pharmacies, Charlie Cannell, Jimmy Carter, Jack Casserly, the Center for Political Studies, Hillary Clinton, John Connolly, John Sherman Cooper, Mario Cuomo, Dallas-ites, George Deukmejian, Walt DeVries, Eastman Kodak, Tom Edsall, esprit d ’corps, Eureka, Merv Field, flanking moves, GW, Georgetown, Ed Goeas, the Harvard Kennedy School, Hee Haw, Stephan Helgesen, Dee Huddleston, Hubert Humphrey, ivory towers, Andrew Jackson, Thomas Jefferson, Lyndon Johnson, Robert Kennedy, Les Kish, Ed Koch, lone wolves, Rocky Marciano, Marielitos, Larry McCarthy, Gale McGee, George McGovern, mea culpa advertising, monocrats, Dick Morris, outsider revolutions, Charles Percy, Ross Perot, Kevin Phillips, pick-up truck license fees, political engineering, port-o-toilets, Sam Rayburn, the RGA, the RNC, Reagan Democrats, Nelson Rockefeller, Larry Sabato, Hugh Scott, Sargent Shriver, the Southern Strategy, Spencer Roberts, Mitt Romney, the Tea Party, technocrats, Bob Teeter, three-piece suits, ticket-splitting, tough dudes, John Tower, toxic waste sites, University of Arkansas, University of Michigan, Malcolm Wallop, Washington & Lee, Frank White, Dick Wirthlin…& more! 
Gale Kaufman is a giant of California politics...winning hundreds of races, including some of the most impactful and expensive ballot measures in American history. In this conversation, Gale talks getting her start in DC, her move to California, an early intersection with Harvey Milk, learning from political mastermind Speaker Willie Brown, starting her own firm that was one of the few woman-owned operations at the time, and growing it into one of the cornerstones of California politics.IN THIS EPISODE…Gale’s early political journey from Miami to DC to California…Gale’s friendship with the legendary late Harvey Milk…Gale’s early stint working on Capitol Hill in DC…The two races that helped put Gale on the political map…Gale talks starting her own firm in the late 80s, as one of few woman-owned political firms…The significance of the word “tough” in Gale’s career…Gale talks what makes an effective campaign manager…Gale goes deep on her two tenures working for political “master” Speaker Willie Brown…Gale gives her California Politics 101, how she thinks about running and winning in CA…Gale remembers the initial rise of Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger…Gale beats back 4 Schwarzenegger ballot measures that would’ve transformed CA politics…Gale’s best practices running ballot measure campaigns…Gale talks spearheading the effort to make marijuana legal in California…Gale’s insights on how she’s run her business over the years…AND Beach High, CTA, Formula One Racing, GW, the Gang of Five, the Haight Ashbury, the inside game, Kaufman Campaigns, Barbara Lee, legal weed, the Library of Congress, George Moscone, Mike Murphy, Grover Norquist, Wayne Owens, “paycheck protection”, Prop 226, SEIU, scared interns, John Tunney, union guys, Watergate, Dan White, The Year of the Woman & more!
Tim Miller had sterling credentials as a top GOP operative, working for the RNC, John McCain, Jeb Bush, Jon Huntsman and more...until he felt increasingly alienated as Donald Trump took over the party. In this conversation, he talks his path out of Republican politics - chronicled in his bestselling book WHY WE DID IT - and how the past several years of GOP politics led to the wholescale Trump takeover of the party. This is a great discussion with one of the most brutally honest observers of American politics, who’s had a front row seat to the most important political phenomenon in decades.IN THIS EPISODE…Tim’s path to working in politics…The early threads Tim saw of the Trump movement in the GOP…Tim talks his role helping write and promote the infamous post-2012 GOP autopsy…The moment Tim realized most of the GOP political class would throw in their lot with Trump…The Corey Lewandowski Theorem…Tim talks the rivalry between Jon Huntsman and Mitt Romney…Rumors of the negotiations of a possible 2016 Rubio / Cruz pact to stop Trump…Memories of Lindsay Graham’s vitriolic anti-Trump sermons…The Breitbart Embassy…Tim talks the time he's spent around Steve Bannon…Tim best practices of placing political opposition research…Tim on the “ruthlessness” gap between the Democratic and Republican political class…The story of the Independent Journal Review as a glimpse into the GOP base...Tim’s creative take on the various type of Trump apologists...Tim defines “nerd revengers”…Tim’s level of optimism the GOP can pull back from the Trump brink…Tim’s LSU football fandom…AND Greg Abbot, George Allen, amnesty, avatars, bags of hammers, Paul Begala, bets with Grandma, blocking and tackling, Dan Bongino, Bruce Braley, Buchaninites, the Bulwark, Jeb Bush, James Carville, Catalist, the Chicago Cubs, Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, cloak and dagger, Scott Conroy, the cool kids table, Council Bluffs, Daily Caller, Mitch Daniels, Death Valley, Ron DeSantis, Bob Dole, dorks and nerds, Matt Drudge, the Everglades, Alyssa Farah, Mark Hanna, hatchet men, Chuck Johnson, Brian Kelly, Ted Kennedy, Charlie Kirk, love children, John McCain, William McKinley, H.R. McMaster, meme culture, Mother Jones, mutual fund managers, National Review, Ralph Northam, Ed Orgeron, Bill Owens, Sarah Palin, plutocrats, Reince Preibus, Ronald Reagan, Todd Ricketts, Nick Saban, Mike Shields, Alex Skatell, Sean Spicer, squishes, Elise Stefanik, George Stephanopoulos, Stuart Stevens, Tea Party weirdos, John Thune, Tiger Island, traffic hoses, Sean Trende, unique psychopathy, Upworthy, Dick Wadhams, Scott Walker, the Wall Street Journal, the World Series, YOLO mode & more!
Tom Davis served seven terms in the House from Northern Virginia, including 2 cycles as NRCC Chair and as Chair of the House Government Reform Committee. In this conversation, he talks becoming obsessed with politics at an early age, working as a Senate page in the 1960s, playing a small role in the political operation of Richard Nixon, 15 years on the Fairfax County Board, 14 years in Congress, protecting the GOP majority in 2000 and 2002 while helming NRCC, why he left elected politics, the work he's most passionate about now, and his expectations ahead of the 2022 midterm elections. IN THIS EPISODE..One early moment when the lifelong political obsession started to click for a 6-year old Tom Davis…Working as a teenage U.S. Senate page…Tom spends 30 minutes in the Oval Office with President Nixon…Tom’s early stint as part of the Nixon political operation…Tom talks the political legacy of Virginia’s famed Byrd Machine…Tom remembers his 14+ years on the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors…Tom on the excitement as part of the 1994 House GOP wave…Tom talks the political skills (and flaws) of Newt Gingrich…Early impressions and surprises on his first term in the House…Memories of tough votes surrounding the impeachment of President Clinton…Tom’s path to running the NRCC in both the 2000 and 2002 cycles…Inside the candidate-recruitment process of the Tom Davis-led NRCC…Highlights of his tenure as Chair of the House Government Reform Committee…The tough decision to pass on an open 2008 Senate race and ultimately forgo re-election altogether…The two types of lobbyists in Washington…Tom breaks down lessons for Republicans in Glenn Youngkin’s 2021 Virginia win…How Tom is thinking about the 2022 midterms…AND Amherst, Appalachian State University, appendages, John Boehner, Harry Byrd, Eldridge Cleaver, Bill Clinger, Carl Curtis, Tom Delay, Harry Dent, Everett Dirksen, David Dreier, Dulles Airport, David Eisenhower, Martin Frost, gay newspapers, George Mason University, Jim Gilmore, Barry Goldwater, Bart Gordon, Bob Haldeman, Jesse Helms, Eleanor Holmes-Norton, Jim Holshouser, Rush Holt, Linwood Holton, John Hostettler, Steny Hoyer, Roman Hruska, Hubert Humphrey, Andrew Jackson, Jacob Javits, Nancy Johnson, Kent State, V.O. Key, lifelong teetotalers, John Linder, Louisiana Smart, Malibu, Mike Mansfield, Terry McAuliffe, Wayne Morse, the Mountain Valley Group, no confidence votes, Oliver North, Barack Obama, Dick Obenshain, Bill Paxon, perfecting amendments, Colin Peterson, Jeffrey Pine, George Rawlings, rental seats, Tom Reynolds, Alice Rivlin, Willis Robertson, Win Rockefeller, the Rotary Club, Antonin Scalia, Chris Shays, slackers, Howard Smith, Billy Tauzin, the Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, Charles Thone, Strom Thurmond, Tulane, Fred Upton, Bob Walker, John Warner, Mark Warner, the Washington Post, Watauga County, Roger Wicker, wiffle ball, Frank Wolf, Jim Wright, Dick Zimmer, Elmo Zumwalt & more!
Ann Lewis has had a legendary career as a Democratic strategist...from her time as Communications Director in the Clinton White a Senior Advisor to Hillary Clinton's 2000 Senate run and both 08 & 16 her time as a Senate Chief of Staff and working at institutions like Planned Parenthood, the DNC, ADA, & more. In this conversation...Ann talks growing up in New Jersey in the shadow of the Hudson County Democratic machine, key moments in her career path as a woman in politics in the 1970s and 80s, intersecting with Bill and Hillary Clinton in the 80s, her work in both the Clinton White House and Clinton campaigns for 20+ years, and her best practices for smart communication strategies.IN THIS EPISODE…Ann grows up in New Jersey in a family who instilled in her the importance of politics…Ann’s early political memories of Harry Truman’s upset win in 1948…Ann talks the Hudson County, NJ political machine of her youth…A political light-bulb goes off for Ann when canvassing for JFK…Ann talks the challenges of working up the political ladder as a woman in the 1970s and 80s…Ann goes deep on the her time working for Hillary Clinton’s 2000 Senate race…Ann on the importance of Americans for Democratic Action…Ann talks her time as campaign manager and Chief of Staff for Senator Barbara Mikulski…Ann first crosses path with Bill & Hillary Clinton in the early 1980s…Ann gets to know then-First Lady Hillary Clinton in 1994…Ann gets pulled into the 1996 Clinton Presidential…Ann’s time as Communication Directions in the White House, including during the Clinton Impeachment saga…Ann’s communications best practices…Ann’s involvement in the ’08 and ’16 Hillary Clinton Presidentials…Ann talks Bill Clinton’s legendary retail skills and Hillary Clinton’s intellect…Ann talks growing up with her brother, and fellow legendary political figure, Congressman Barney Frank…Ann’s advice to the next generation of political operatives…AND Aunt Fanny, the Baltimore Museum of Art, basement offices, battlefield promotions, Bayonne, blankety-blank campaigns, George H.W. Bush, chattering classes, childish bullies, the Clinton Library, cocktail parties, the Colossus of Rhodes, Democratic Majority for Israel, Thomas Dewey, Bob Dole, Facebook, Fells Point, flaming parachutes, Boss Hague, the George Washington Bridge, Newt Gingrich, Rudy Giuliani, Margaret Hague, Jesse Helms, Harold Ickes, Jewish Women for Hillary, Junior Advisors, John Kennedy, Rick Lazio, Nita Lowey, Chuck Manatt, Mac Mathias, moderate ethnics, Pat Moynihan, the New York Post, Richard Nixon, NOW, one-and-a-half computers, Norm Ornstein, George Pataki, Planned Parenthood, Charlie Rangel, Joe Rauh, Walter Reuther, Eleanor Roosevelt, Adlai Stevenson, sturdy women, third wives, tugboats, the Unpleasantness, upstate winegrowers, Henry Wallace, Anne Wexler, Maggie Williams, the Women’s Political Caucus & more!
Lauren Baer worked at high levels of the American foreign policy aide to former Secretary of State Madeline Albright and in the Obama State Department as Senior Advisor to Secretaries of State Hillary Clinton and John Kerry...until the 2016 election drove home the importance of political campaigns. She then put her own name on the ballot as the Democratc nominee in a targeted US House race in South Florida. That experience drove her decision to join Arena as their Managing Partner to recruit, train, and support the next generation of political campaign staff. In this conversation, she talks her time at the upper echelons of American foreign policy, her experience as a political rookie running in a targeted US House seat, and the work and thinking she's doing to invest in a more diverse and skilled next generation of political operatives.IN THIS EPISODELauren’s late-in-life decision to get involved in politics…Lauren’s time as Senior Advisor in the US State Department…Lauren’s experiences working with Secretaries of State Hillary Clinton and John Kerry…Lauren talks the legacy of Madeline Albright…Lauren’s thoughts on the most under-discussed foreign policy issue facing the U.S….Lauren runs for Congress in 2018, learning about campaigns as she goes…Lauren’s take on Florida’s status as a swing state…Lauren talks about the work being done by Arena train political operatives…What is the hurdle that makes a diverse pipeline of campaign staff so challenging…Lauren on the staffing "crisis” in political campaigns…Lauren’s response to the idea that the Democratic staffing class tilts too liberal…How Lauren thinks about the movement toward unionizing political campaigns…AND…air quotes, Yasser Arafat, Joe Biden, bright blue bathing suits, Val Demings, End Citizens United, golden retrievers, Al Gore, Hacks, Henry Kissinger, Harold Koh, Hard Nos, The Marshall Plan, Brian Mast, moral authority, Debbie Murcasel Powell, pink cowboy hats, Samantha Power, relational organizing, Alex Roarty, Bernie Sanders, Donna Shalala, David Shor, Elissa Slotkin, Donald Trump, Raphael Warnock, WhatsApp, white-shoe law firms, wonkish outward facing orientations & more!
Sean McElwee is the Founding Executive Director of Data for Progress, a progressive polling and think tank operation shaking up the way Democrats utilize data to better message and implement their priorities. Sean talks his roots as a military kid in an evangelical household, his circuitous path to working in progressive politics, the origin and evolution of Data for Progress, and how he thinks about some of the big questions facing those who work in politics. IN THIS EPISODE….Sean grows up in an evangelical military family in Connecticut…What drew Sean toward libertarianism early and what made him move away from it…The threads of evangelical Christianity that still endure in Sean’s politics…Sean’s riff on whether candidates should use profanity…Sean talks the importance of a candidate’s “vibes” and “juice”…The famous broadcaster Sean is friendly with…Sean talks the role think-tanks play in American politics…Sean talks his time leading the “Abolish ICE” effort…Sean tells the story behind the founding of Data for Progress…Sean on his friendship with prominent data scient David Shor and where they disagree…Sean’s theory on why people should gamble more on prediction markets…Sean talks his big wins and some losses on the political prediction markets…Sean’s take on the political appeal of John Fetterman…How Sean thinks about the role of Independent Expenditures…The Republican politicians whose communications impress Sean...Sean’s advice on the campaigns Democrats should run in 2022…What Sean looks for when he’s hiring at Data for Progress…Sean’s strangest work habits… AND…the 80-50 rule, 90% agendas, AOC, John Anzalone, automatic voter registration, Richard Blumenthal, books and stuff, Jamaal Bowman, Katie Britt, Mo Brooks, Jimmy Carter, CBS News, chimeras, Jim Clyburn, Susan Collins, Joe Courtney, Henry Cuellar, Defund the Police, Demos, Doug Ducey, elite actors, e-mailing yourself, Elliot Engel, John Fetterman, Brian Fitzpatrick, Rich Funke, Mike Garcia, Jared Golden, governing moments, happy hours, heuristics, Jim Himes, Boris Johnson, Mondaire Jones, John Katko, Brian Kemp, Alexander Lamis, Adam Laxalt, David McKinley, messaging bills, Markwayne Mullin, multi-level regression, Chris Murphy, neoliberalism, New York Times factchecks, Barack Obama, old guy Instagrams, Dr. Oz, Ron Paul, pivotal electoral voters, plastic bag bans, Jef Pollock, popularism, Predict It, Scott Pruitt, Reason Magazine, Robocop, Run for Something, Larry Sabato, SPSS, Chuck Schumer, sex scenes, simulacrums, John Stossel, terrain advantages, Title 42, Ritche Torres, Donald Trump, Nina Turner, woke staffers, Ron Wyden, YouGov, & more!
Charlie Black is a legendary figure in Republican politics, working his first presidential campaign with Ronald Reagan in 1976 and being involved at a high level with both Presidents Bush and names like Kemp, Dole, McCain, Romney, Kasich and more. In this conversation, Charlie talks his roots in the conservative movement of the 1970s, his work as a political consultant in some of the most famous races of the era, and offers stories, insight, and lessons learned from one of the most impactful political lives of his generation.IN THIS EPISODE                                                    Charlie’s roots in Wilmington North Carolina…Barry Goldwater draws Charlie to the GOP…How his early Republican activism leads to his first real campaign job with Jesse Helms first Senate race in 1972…Charlie talks the political strength of Jesse Helms that led to a 30-year Senate career, including the titanic ’84 race between Helms and Democratic heavyweight Governor Jim Hunt…Charlie talks the rise of direct mail fundraising, Independent Expenditures, and the development of the conservative movement throughout the 1970s…Charlie’s role running several states in the insurgent Reagan ’76 primary challenge to Gerald Ford…Charlie talks the strategic decisions that led to Reagan winning the GOP nomination in 1980…Charlie goes into political consulting, working for scores of Senators, Governors, and House members…The question Ronald Reagan asked himself every morning in the White House…Charlie helps George H.W. Bush turn a 17-point deficit in 1988 into a landslide win…Charlie’s longtime friendship with George W. Bush…The Charlie Black 101 on effective campaign management…Charlie talks his relationship with Lee Atwater, one of his best friends…Charlie manages Jack Kemp’s 1988 Presidential campaign…Charlie on the Democratic politicians who’ve most impressed him…Charlie talks his work in government relations and former business partners Roger Stone and Paul Manafort…Charlie’s take on how the Republican Establishment lost control of the party to the Trump wing…Charlie’s best practices for crisis-communication…AND 80% friends, the ACLU, Roger Ailes, American University, John Anderson, Howard Baker, Jim Baker, Bigness, Boston Harbor, Bill Brock, Pat Buchanan, Buckley v. Valeo, the California guys, Bill Clinton, John Connolly, the Conscience of a Conservative, courtroom lawyers, Phil Crane, Michael Deaver, Terry Dolan, Kitty Dukakis, Michael Dukakis, John East, Jim Ely, Newt Gingrich, Bob Graham, the greatest Senate race ever run, Pete Hannaford, Paula Hawkins, the Hill newspaper, Willie Horton, Peter Kelly, Kemp-Roth tax cuts, Jim Lake, the League of Women Voters, C.S. Lewis, little bastards, Trent Lott, Mac Mathias, George McGovern, Ed Meese, Walter Mondale, Nashua, nativists, negative advertising, Nixon’s coattails, noblesse oblige, Lyn Nofziger, Scott Pastrick, Pauley Pavillion, Ross Perot, Prime Policy Group, the RNC, Reaganites,  Karl Rove, John Sears, Richard Schweiker, Bernie Shaw, Arlen Specter, Stu Spencer, Bob Strauss, Donald Trump, Tom Turnipseed, University of Florida, Richard Viguerie, Paul Volcker, Paul Weyrich, YAF, Young Republicans…& more!
Katie Moore was recently named Campaign Manager of the Year for her role managing Eric Adams' winning NYC Mayoral Campaign last year. In this conversation, she talks her roots as a "farm kid" in Western Kentucky, how she fell in love both with New York City and political organizing, and a deep dive into NYC politics and the 2021 Adams' victory.IN THIS EPISODE…Katie talks her rural roots in Marshall County in Western KY…Katie takes inspiration from the Clinton / Gore ticket…How Katie gets to NYC and develops a passion for political field work…Katie talks her time working for ACORN and its political legacy…Katie crosses path with Bill de Blasio in his first City Council race in 2001…Katie talks her passion for political field work…Katie gives her 101 on how she thinks of NYC politics…Katie’s time leading the political operation for the city’s Hotel Trades Council…Katie’s sabbatical from politics as a yoga instructor…Katie takes the helm of the 2021 Eric Adams Mayoral Campaign…The winning story and message behind the Adams’ campaign…Katie talks the Andrew Yang factor in the mayoral…The political impact of NYC’s new Ranked Choice Voting system…The challenges of managing a big race during Covid and with two small kids…Katie talks her current role as a Partner at Red Horse Strategies…AND 1199 SEIU, 32BJ, Steve Banks, blue collar mayors, Brooklyn, canvassing on crutches, college-ruled spiral notebooks, Martha Layne Collins, Dennison University, Ruben Diaz Jr., DC 37, Ditch Mitch stickers, expanded EITC, field elitists, Kathryn Garcia, Rudy Giuliani, Al Gore, Aaron Hecht, infinite pockets, Tish James, Corey Johnson, John Kess, Kendrick Lamar, the Legal Aid Society, Bertha Lewis, Connor Martinez, miso soup, music degrees, the NYT spelling bee, nasty hit jobs, non-verbal cues, Paducah, Rand Paul, the Plaza Hotel, rock star moments, Nathan Smith, Scott Stringer, twin boys, union cards, vegans, the Village Voice, Maya Wiley, Jumaane Williams, Emma Wolfe, World Book Encyclopedias, XXL…& more!
Jerry Austin is probably best known as the campaign manager for Reverend Jesse Jackson's '88 Presidential Campaign that won 11 contests and led in delegates deep into the calendar...and he also served as manager, media consultant, advisor to names like Paul Wellstone, Carol Moselely Braun, Sherrod Brown, Paul Tsongas and many more. In this conversation, Jerry talks the '88 Jackson race and high points and lessons learned from decades working with some of the biggest names in American politics. Plus Jerry previews his book series TRUE TALES FROM THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL...pulling together the best campaign war stories from a bipartisan coterie of top political consultants. IN THIS EPISODEJerry grows up in a union household in the South Bronx…Protesting the Vietnam War leads Jerry to a political career…Jerry’s early connection to rising star and future Ohio Governor Dick Celeste…A deep dive on Jerry’s time managing the 1988 presidential campaign of Reverend Jesse Jackson…Jerry tells some great Willie Brown stories…The first two moves he took to make Jesse Jackson a credible national candidate in 1988…Wisconsin becomes a “make or break” state for Jackson in the ’88 primaries…How closely was Reverend Jackson considered for the VP nomination n 1988…Jerry’s thoughts on how Jackson ’88 blazed the trail for both Clinton '92 and Obama ’08…Jerry’s involvement at the start of the career of now Senator Sherrod Brown…Jerry’s integral role in the underdog upset win of Paul Wellstone in 1990…The story of Paul Wellstone and Ted Kennedy in a heated argument on the Senate floor…Jerry helps engineer the groundbreaking Senate win of Carol Moseley Braun in 1992…Jerry talks the rise and fall of former Arkansas Governor Jim Guy Tucker…Jerry’s brought in to help on Paul Tsongas ’92 Presidential…Jerry is an official observer during the “Pinochet plebiscite” in Chile…Jerry talks the origin of his book series “True Tales from the Campaign Trail” and one of his favorite stories…AND Art Agnos, Salvador Allende, David Axelrod, bagels and coffees, Robert Bork, Rudy Boschwitz, Boston People, Charlie Brown, Ted Brown, Virgil Brown, Cadillacs, Tony Celebrezze, Steve Cobble, the Dallas Cowboys, Alan Dixon, Bob Dole, Pete Domenici, duck hunting, Michael Dukakis, Susan Estrich, exit polls, Louis Farrakhan, gentile women, Al Gore, Al Hofeld, Tom Hsieh, Hunter College, Jerry Jones, Celinda Lake, Vito Marcantonio, matching funds, McDonalds' executives, Meridian MS, Howard Metzenbaum, George Mitchell, Walter Mondale, Dee Dee Myers, Barack Obama, pander bears, pariahs, Augusto Pinochet, pipe dreams, scrums, the Secret Service, Hank Sheinkopf, the Tampa Airport, Clarence Thomas, Tulsa, the UN, the US Communist Party, VW bugs, voice votes, Maxine Waters & more!
Lis Smith is an operative's operative...with nearly 20 years of races under her belt of wins and losses and lessons learned along the way. Her new book ANY GIVEN TUESDAY is now out about her career in politics, while also finding herself in the headlines from time to time...including a deep dive into the unlikely ascent of Pete Buttigieg's 2020 Presidential Campaign. This is a really fun conversation with one of the most dynamic thinkers in today's politics. IN THIS EPISODEThe moment Lis fell in love with politics…The common threads of the candidates Lis wants to work with…What makes Claire McCaskill a talented communicator…Lis’s take on how Democrats should navigate Fox News…Lis’s early campaign stint seeing old-school politics in Kentucky…Lis defines “strategic cuss words”…Lis squares off against Chris Christie in his first race…Lis breaks down her role running Rapid Response for the 2012 Obama Re-election…The political importance of “parasocial relationships”?Why an operative has to be willing to disagree with their client…Why some personally charismatic candidates have trouble communicating publicly…Lis’s very first impressions of Pete Buttigieg…Memorable responses when people heard Lis was working for the Buttigieg Presidential…The common thread between John McCain’s 2000 presidential and Buttigieg 2020…The origin of what came to be known as the Pete Buttigieg "uniform"…Lis’s favorite memory from the Pete 2020 experience…Lessons Lis learned in her stint working for Andrew Cuomo…Her approach to building and nurturing talented teams and operatives…Lis’s advice on underappreciated Guns N’ Roses songs…AND David Axelrod, bangers, the bee’s knees, Paul Begala, Richard Ben Cramer, Chuck Berry, Blueberry Hill, Jerry Brown, George Bush, can-do mayors, Tucker Carlson, Hillary Clinton, Coal Miner’s Daughter, Jon Corzine, Stephanie Cutter, Tom Daschle, defense contractors, Diet Dr. Pepper, John Edwards, Albert Einstein, evil twins, Greek tragedies, Sean Hannity, Kamala Harris, Eric Holder, ill-fitting suits, Laura Ingraham, it factors, Bob Kerrey, John Kerry, Ben LaBolt, Chris Maher, Terry McAuliffe, Mallory McMorrow, mill towns, Tim Miller, Martin O’Malley, John Mulaney, normal person language, Michelle Obama, Jen O’Malley Dillon, pantsuits, the Pete Diaspora, Prince Charming, the Prince of Darkness, Jen Psaki, rage juice, Red Bull, Kid Rock, Mitt Romney, Axl Rose, Bernie Sanders, Mike Schmuhl, sequin shirts, Nina Smith, Julianna Smoot, George Stephanopoulos, the Straight Talk Express, Ted Strickland, summer doldrums, Greg Stumbo, TJ Maxx, Donald Trump, Twitter, visual brands, the War Room, water coolers, Glen Youngkin…& more!
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