Tuesday, May 29, 2007

'Rising Star' Political Operatives

. . . . So says Campaigns & Elections magazine in a press release today

Campaigns & Elections magazine today named its 2007 Rising Stars. One of the most prestigious honors in politics, the award goes to people 35 or under who have already made a significant mark in political consulting or advocacy. Campaigns & Elections chose 10 Democrats, 10 Republicans and five nonpartisan leaders this year out of a pool of several hundred nominees.

"We expect great things from the 2007 Rising Stars," said Morgan E. Felchner, editor of Campaigns & Elections. "Through their achievements, they are proving that success truly has no limits."

Past Rising Stars have included Paul Begala, Ed Gillespie, Alexis Herman, Karen Hughes, Laura Ingraham, Jim Pinkerton, Ralph Reed and George Stephanopoulos, to name just a few. This year's recipients will be honored at a special reception at C&E's 24th annual campaign training seminar, "The Art of Political Campaigning," on May 31 in Washington D.C.

The Rising Stars of 2007 are:
Justin Abbott (N) is the vice president of Blogads.com, which places ads on 1,000 peer-selected blogs with 300 million impressions a month. His firm has steadily risen in popularity since its founding in 2002, placing ads for Hillary Clinton, Rudy Giuliani, John Edwards and Mitt Romney.

Nick Ayers (R) is the executive director of the Republican Governors Association. He was appointed in late 2006 by Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue, the RGA chairman. He served as Perdue's re-election campaign manager in 2006, winning by almost 20 points in an otherwise tough year for Republicans.

Carlos Castillo (R) is campaign manager for Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman's re-election bid. In the 2006 Republican primary, he led Heineman from a 40-point deficit to victory over Nebraska legend Tom Osborne. He has managed two successful re-election campaigns for Rep. Lee Terry and developed a successful strategy to elect a Republican majority on the Omaha City Council. In 2003, then-Gov. Mike Johanns appointed Castillo as the Douglas County Election Commissioner, making him the youngest election commissioner in the country.

Bryan Dooley (D) is the vice president of Hamilton Campaigns. Last year, he worked on some of the nation's toughest campaigns, including Christine Jennings' hotly contested congressional race in Florida, Jim Rex's successful bid to become the only Democrat to win a statewide race in South Carolina, Sen. Bill Nelson's successful re-election campaign, and Rep. Tim Mahoney's successful congressional campaign. He also worked with five independent expenditures for the DCCC and two for the DSCC.

Mindy Finn (R) is director of e-strategy for former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney's presidential campaign. In the 2006 cycle, she served as director of new media and political technology on then-Sen. Rick Santorum's re-election bid. She is also a partner at CTBS, a new media firm she formed with strategist Vince Galko after the 2006 elections.

Sarah Flowers (D) is vice president of Laguens Hamburger Kully Klose, a political media and message firm based in Seattle and Washington, D.C. She is the 2007-2008 co-chairwoman of American University's Women and Politics Institute Young Women Leaders Board. She is a founding member of Vote Against Violence, a PAC which supports candidates who work to protect families from domestic violence. She authored Planned Parenthood's 2006 political plan, and provides strategic planning and message development to the Planned Parenthood Federation of America and its 17 state affiliates.

Justin Germany (R) is an account executive at Campaign Solutions and director of online video for McCain for President, where he has produced over 60 Web videos. His star first rose as videographer for the Bush-Cheney ‘04 campaign, and this year he picked up a 2007 golden Dot Award for Best Vlog for his HamNation vlog on TownHall.com.

Josh Grossfeld (D) is the vice president of the communications firm Mammen Group, Inc. He came to the firm in 2004 as a senior account executive and was named vice president two years later. Before that, he helped start Democratic GAIN, where he helped develop a 6,000-person training at the 2004 Democratic National Convention. Some of his clients include the AFL-CIO, the DNC, the Iowa House Democratic Caucus and AARP.

Jennifer Hallowell (R) serves as executive director of Rudy Giuliani's New Hampshire presidential effort. Previously, she was executive director for the Indiana Republican Party. As part of a three-member team that implemented the party's successful rebirth, she helped create the statewide political infrastructure and GOTV programs for the 2002 and 2004 cycles that helped her party regain control of the Indiana House of Representatives.

Jeff Hewitt (D) is a co-founder and partner in Fero Hewitt Global, a general and fund-raising consulting firm ranked as the top Democratic firm in Texas by CapitolInside.com last year. His efforts have helped elect the first-ever Vietnamese-American legislator in Texas and led more state House challengers to victory in Texas than any other Democratic strategist in 2004. At age 20, Hewitt served as one of the five youngest paid staffers of the Clinton-Gore campaign, serving as the candidates' advance staff in 34 states.

Larry Huynh (D) is a principal and co-founder of Blackrock Associates, an online strategic consulting firm. Last fall, Huynh's firm helped elect Sens. Jim Webb and Amy Klobuchar and Rep. Nick Lampson. Blackrock was key to Webb's victory, by coordinating and achieving the viralization of the "Macaca" video and raising more than $4 million online. In 2004, Huynh helped lead the Draft Wes Clark movement before raising more than $7 million as Clark's online fund-raising and communications strategist in the 2004 presidential campaign.

Jon Isaacs (D) is vice president of Compass Media, Inc., a direct mail, media and communications firm. Previously, he served at the DSCC and then the Oregon House Democratic Campaign Committee, where he helped pick up four seats and push the House Democrats to a 31-29 majority.

Seema Jalan (N) is senior manager for global development policy at the Women's Edge Coalition. Jalan lobbies for two key pieces of legislation: the International Violence Against Women Act and the Global Resources and Opportunities for Women to Thrive Act. She helped develop and advocate for the Millennium Challenge Corporation's new landmark gender policy, and is an international authority on development issues and advocacy strategies.

Heather Kennedy (N) is the manager of government relations at The Home Depot. Under her leadership, The Home Depot's PAC receipts have increased by 422 percent since the 2000 cycle, to $1.6 million. She raised more than $500,000 in hard dollars in 2006 by managing fund-raising activities for federal and state clients.

Evan Kozlow (R) is director of member services for the National Republican Congressional Campaign Committee. He has directed many successful New Jersey campaigns, including Rep. Scott Garrett's five-way primary victory, in which Garrett won the general election despite being outspent 2-1. He also directed Jersey City Mayor Bret Schundler's 20-point upset of Bob Franks in the 2001 gubernatorial primary and managed Tom Kean Jr.'s recent Senate campaign, coming closer to a win than any other Republican challenger or open seat campaign in the 2006 cycle.

Ilro Lee (D) is CIO and director of product development for Zata|3 Consulting, a minority-owned Democratic voter contact and grass-roots advocacy firm. Since it opened its doors in 2005, Zata|3 has conducted programs for more than 240 campaigns in 36 states. Realizing that contact rates for phone programs were falling because of cell phones and caller ID, he produced a system that better mines data in call reports and also developed a new wave of cost-effective survey tools.

Michael Markarian (N) is the executive vice president of The Humane Society of the United States, chairman of Humane USA PAC and president of The Humane Society Legislative Fund. In 2006, he led two successful ballot initiative campaigns: one that defeated a measure to allow mourning dove hunting in Michigan and another to ban cruel confinement of pigs and calves. In 2004, through the PAC, he launched an independent expenditure campaign against Rep. Chris John, opposing John's support for cockfighting, leading to the election of Rep. David Vitter to the open Senate seat in Louisiana.

Annie Mayol (R) is the president and founder of Imagen Strategies, an integrated marketing and communications firm that focuses on the Hispanic community. She has worked on domestic campaigns as well as campaigns in Bahrain, Colombia, Guatemala and Morocco. She is currently working with the Foundation of Defense of Democracy to help female candidates get elected in the Middle East. Previously, she served as associate director for the White House Office of Political Affairs and managed the campaign of Rep. Luis Fortuño, who is the first Republican Puerto Rican elected to Congress.

Brett Sciotto (R) is president of American Strategies LLC, a strategy and campaign management firm. After graduating from West Point, he served as a military intelligence officer with the 101st Airborne Division. Following his tour of duty, he managed a mayoral race in Clarksville, Tenn., and served as a chairman of the Montgomery County, Tennessee Republican Party. Later, he formed American Strategies, where his 2006 clients included Environmental Defense, the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation, several independent expenditures in Senate races and candidates ranging from gubernatorial to local municipal races.

Sarah Simmons (R) is deputy strategist for Sen. John McCain's presidential campaign. Before that, she worked as deputy strategist on California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's 2006 re-election campaign, as associate director of the White House Office of Strategic Initiatives and as a senior project director for the polling firm Public Opinion Strategies.

Ravi Singh (N) is the CEO of ElectionMall Technologies, a nonpartisan Internet-based firm that works on races ranging from presidential campaigns to school board elections. His accomplishments on both sides of the aisle include launching the first animated presidential debates in 2004, the first voter toolbar at the Democratic Convention in 2004, the first audio blog at the Republican Convention in 2004 and being the first Asian-American with a turban to run for office, when he ran for the state House in Illinois.

Robin Swanson (D) is a consultant for Kaufman Campaign Consultants, a campaign management firm based in Sacramento, Calif. Since California's special election in 2003, Swanson has put together a string of unlikely victories. She coordinated press events for Alliance for a Better California that received unprecedented news coverage and helped defeat all of Governor Schwarzenegger's initiatives.

Rashad Taylor (D) is a principal at Capital Strategies, one of Georgia's leading Democratic political and fund-raising consulting firms. He has managed the campaigns for the state's youngest elected officials, many of whom were significant underdogs. Those campaigns include Alisha Thomas-Morgan, the state's youngest congresswoman and the first African American from Cobb County to serve in the state legislature, who won in a District that was only 52 percent Democratic and 74 percent white.

Jason Torchinsky (R) is a senior associate at Holtzman Vogel PLLC, a law firm specializing in campaign finance, election law and government ethics. He has counseled some of the highest-profile Republican officeholders and candidates in the last several years, and has worked for the Republican National Committee, the White House, the Justice Department and the 2004 Bush-Cheney campaign. He helped the Bush-Cheney campaign create its first-ever "joint" party/ candidate advertising; the ads were so successful that the FEC now lists "hybrid" ads on its list of regulatory priorities.

Jessica VandenBerg (D) is a partner at Maverick One, a Democratic strategy and direct mail firm, and is campaign manager for the ONE Campaign's ONE Vote '08 initiative, but is better known for her role as campaign manager in Sen. Jim Webb's upset victory over former Sen. George Allen. Previously, she was campaign manager for Sen. Amy Klobuchar's primary campaign, Oklahoma campaign manager for General Wesley Clark's presidential campaign and deputy coordinated campaign director for the Iowa Democratic Party, electing Sen. Tom Harkin and Gov. Tom Vilsack.