Robert Blizzard, 28, Republican
Vice President, Public Opinion Strategies
Robert Blizzard started his political career young. His dad worked for Ronald Reagan so a career in Republican politics was in the cards. As an undergrad at Clemson University, Blizzard landed an internship at the Republican polling giant Public Opinion Strategies (POS). After graduating a year early, he spent some more time at POS before a two-year stint at a Minnesota energy company—two years that convinced him he really wanted to be back in the campaign business. Shortly thereafter, Blizzard returned to POS for good. “I’m happy to still be doing what I’m doing now,” says Blizzard, who started as a senior project director at POS. He now serves as vice president and works with some of the firm’s top clients cycle to cycle.
In 2006, one of the worst years for Republicans in a generation, Blizzard served on the polling team in a handful of winning U.S. Senate races, and directed polling efforts for Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman. That year Heineman won a tough primary against then-Rep. Tom Osbourne, a legendary former Nebraska football coach. Overall that year, POS managed wins in four Senate races and six gubernatorial contests. This cycle, Blizzard is polling for a handful of targeted Congressional contests, including Josh Mandel’s Senate campaign in Ohio.
Megan Cellucci, 27, Nonpartisan
Senior Digital Strategist, CampaignGrid
Megan Cellucci has exactly what it takes to succeed in the world of online advertising, say her colleagues: work ethic, intelligence, and a knack for targeting. As senior digital strategist at CampaignGrid, Cellucci has managed online strategy for more than 100 different political, franking, commercial and advocacy campaigns over the past two years and is helping train the political world’s ever-growing number of digital campaign strategists.
For Cellucci, the best part of her current job is the variety and the sheer number of campaigns she’s able to be a part of. “It certainly helps to be able to manage,” she says. “And it’s rewarding to be working on something that has such a major impact.” Cellucci grew up in the Philadelphian suburbs before heading to Washington to pursue a marketing degree at Georgetown University. After graduation, Cellucci worked as a manager at AOL before joining CampaignGrid as an online campaign manager.
In addition to international work in Canada, Cellucci’s clients have included more than 20 Senate and Congressional campaigns, and at least one presidential effort. “Her staff relies on her for constant training, client management, and overall leadership,” says Jordan Lieberman, CampaignGrid’s managing director. When one of the firm’s nonprofit clients recently approached her at 10 p.m. requesting the launch of an online program as quickly as possible, Cellucci worked through the night and had the program up and running by daybreak.
Scott Fairchild, 34, Democrat
National Campaign Director, League of Conservation Voters
A few years ago, Rahm Emanuel got to know Scott Fairchild from his work on House races. Fairchild had managed, and won, races for Reps. Bill Foster in Illinois and Patrick Murphy in Pennsylvania around the time Emanuel headed the DCCC. Those victories in tough districts impressed Emanuel. When he left the White House to run for mayor of Chicago in fall 2010, Emanuel asked Fairchild to manage his campaign. Fairchild had just one condition for the famously pugnacious congressman: he wanted to bring Bristol, his beloved German Shepherd- Greyhound mix, to the Chicago campaign office. The candidate agreed.
At the time, it wasn’t a foregone conclusion Emanuel would win the race. “Once he got over his shyness, he became a great candidate,” Fairchild jokes. Emanuel, meanwhile, calls Fairchild the “rare manager whose composure is matched by his diligence.” The campaign kept a relentless focus on grassroots organizing. They brought the candidate through all the city’s 50 wards in 50 hours. Emanuel hit the morning and evening rushes at the L stops, a tradition maintained from his congressional races. Fairchild, Emanuel tells C&E, “inspires respect and admiration from his team and his track record demonstrates that he’s an excellent manager.”
Fairchild’s strategy in Chicago was drawn from his experience on Tim Kaine’s 2005 gubernatorial campaign in Virginia and from managing Robert Baines’ mayoral bid in Manchester, N.H. in 2003. “I got to learn a lot about how to get TV ads together, how to get the mail working,” he says. “You really get to learn constituency politics [on mayoral races], which I really enjoy.”
Fairchild has had campaigning in his blood since his first school board race in Washington, DC. His resume includes a long stint in New Hampshire and Ohio on Sen. John Kerry’s 2004 presidential campaign—after which he’d return home to Washington where he’d bartend at a spot on U Street until the next race. Fairchild’s not pouring pints anymore. He’s currently the national campaign director at the League of Conservation Voters. “LCV is a great place for me to grow,” he says. “I plan to stay here.”
Denise Feriozzi, 32, Democrat
Women Vote Director, EMILY’s List
Denise Feriozzi relishes the opportunity to help change the face of American politics. Growing up in New Jersey, where Christine Todd Whitman served as governor at the time, Feriozzi was inspired to increase female representation among the ranks of elected officials.
“I love that we are trying to increase the number of women in government,” Feriozzi says of her work at EMILY’s List. “There’s no better way to feel like you’re having an impact.” After graduating from the College of William and Mary with a degree in government, Feriozzi went to work at a lobbying firm and quickly realized a career on K Street wasn’t in her future. Wanting to “get her hands dirtier” on the campaign trail, Feriozzi went to work as field organizer for South Dakota Democrat Tim Johnson’s 2002 Senate campaign, and felt much more at home. The following year, she joined EMILY’S List as Campaign Corps deputy director and recruiter. “She’s always on the cutting edge of new technologies and innovations in voter contact programs,” says Democratic strategist Martha McKenna who has worked with EMILY’s List.
Since first joining the organization, Feriozzi has held a number of different posts at EMILY’s List, which has allowed her to jump back and forth from the campaign trail in recent cycles. In 2008, Feriozzi served as the Iowa Caucus field director for then- Sen. Hillary Clinton. Back at EMILY’s List, Feriozzi now serves as the WOMEN VOTE director where she develops programs to persuade and mobilize female voters.
Jen Harrington, 29, Republican
Director of Special Projects, the Prosper Group
“I never thought I’d end up in politics,” Jen Harrington says with a laugh. The Nevada native was a classically trained pianist and grew up envisioning a career in business—one that would give her enough time to focus on music. But now, Harrington has her pick of consulting jobs in Washington.
Her career began on the Bush-Cheney reelection campaign in 2004. A stint as a field organizer led to jobs on then- Sen. John Ensign’s (R-Nev.) reelection campaign and Jim Gibbons’ successful gubernatorial run in the Silver State. A political appointment in the Department of Homeland Security followed, after which Harrington joined the White House’s political shop. As the Bush administration wound down, Harrington returned to Nevada to become vice president at j3 Strategies. And after the 2008 cycle, she was recruited to Wisconsin to help Republican lawmakers facing recall elections.
The race that really stands out for her, though, is a Las Vegas City council race she ran for Stavros Anthony in spring 2009. The LVPD officer was starved for cash after a poll showed him down 18 points six weeks before the vote. Harrington focused on building a turnout operation. Anthony ended up winning by 10 votes. “There is nothing better than the feel of managing a campaign—that’s what I love to do,” she says. “General consulting, that’s the closest I can get to it.”
Harrington hasn’t played the piano in public since her last recital when she was 18. Now, she settles for watching the action at Pete’s Dueling Piano Bar when she’s back in Vegas. “The dream is to have a mini grand in the living room and shut everything out for a couple hours and play,” she says.
Vincent Harris, 24, Republican
President, Harris Media, LLC
Vincent Harris’ first political gig wasn’t a glamorous one. As a high school student in Northern Virginia, he would accompany former Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.) to parades—Harris was the guy who walked next to the congressman wearing an elephant costume. “I’d actually skip school to go to those parades with him dressed up as an elephant,” Harris recalls. Thankfully, his career has been on a steady rise ever since.
Harris launched a blog, TooConservative.com, which gained a following in Northern Virginia. At the age of 18, he decided to weigh in on the 2008 presidential race, endorsing Mike Huckabee long before anyone was paying attention to the former Arkansas governor. At that stage in the game, Huckabee was looking for press anywhere he could find it and the campaign gladly granted Harris an interview. About a month after the interview, Huckabee offered Harris a job. Harris served as an online staffer on the Huckabee effort. He dealt with bloggers and updated the campaign’s social media channels. At Harris’ urging, Huckabee’s campaign became the first GOP campaign to launch a Twitter account.
After the 2008 race, Harris worked as the new media director at the National Republican Senatorial Committee for the first part of 2009 before he left to start his own firm—Harris Media. The firm was behind the online campaign efforts of Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell and Florida Gov. Rick Scott. This cycle, Harris’ firm worked for the presidential campaigns of Texas Gov. Rick Perry and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. Harris has also worked overseas—most recently leading trainings in Egypt for the International Republican Institute.
“I was actually one of the first trainers IRI brought into Egypt,” says Harris. “To see that in action and to be a part of that—it was absolutely one of the best experiences of my life.”