Jorge Domingo Gerez, 35, International
Partner and Executive Director, Quintella Gerez Branding Ltd.
Jorge Gerez became interested in politics in 1983, as his native Argentina re-embraced democracy after decades of autocratic rule. Just seven years old, he took to the streets to hand out stickers for candidates that he saw appealing for support on television—an entirely novel phenomenon at the time.
After graduating from university, Gerez co-founded the Argentine Political Marketing
Association (AAMP), a professional organization that consults for academic institutions, where he focused on advertising. “I find it more challenging working with political spots,” he says. “Your product is alive, thinking, and speaking. It is a person, not a soda.”
In 2003, Gerez founded Quintella Gerez Branding in Brazil, and has since opened offices in Spain, Argentina, and Mexico as well. The firm was founded with the aim of connecting candidates with their would-be constituents, despite the inconsistent reach of television signals in many parts of Latin America. Toward this end, it has created Onsite TV, which allows voters to monitor local campaigns via the Internet.
Among his greatest political accomplishments, Gerez cites his role in rebranding the Brazilian Green Party. Indeed, political branding is a topic of great interest to Gerez, and he is currently at work on his first book, tentatively titled Political Branding. In it, he promises to expand on a favorite maxim (with apologies to Descartes): I manage my brand effectively, therefore I am.
Bruno Hoffmann, 27, International
Founder and CEO, HoffGroup
Inspired to pursue a career in campaigns with the aim of helping to clean up the corrupt political environment of his native Brazil, Bruno Hoffmann amassed years of schooling and experience in the United States before returning home to put what he had learned into practice.
After studying English and American Studies at Johns Hopkins University and earning a master’s in political management at George Washington University, in 2007 Hoffmann went to work for PoliticsTV, a Washington-based political Web video production firm where he wrote, hosted, and produced a weekly series on the 2008 presidential election. Then he moved to WebStrong, a Virginia-based political communications firm where he worked on digital strategy.
In 2008, Hoffmann returned to Brazil to handle online strategy for the consulting firm DEA Brasil on mayoral campaigns in the country’s two largest cities. In 2010, having moved to Grupo Duda Mendonça as its new media director, he played a key role in engineering online campaigns for thirteen statewide candidates, all running for governor or Federal Senate.
The catch was that, according to Brazilian law, the candidates were not allowed to launch their Web presence before July 6. Hoffmann describes that day as among the most challenging and satisfying in his political career. “We had one day to get all the websites ready for all thirteen campaigns,” he says. “When we had them up, it was a big victory.” An even bigger victory came on Election Day, when ten of the thirteen candidates won.
Hoffmann then launched HoffGroup. “With my own firm, I could start working on my own brand and have the freedom that I need to work with the clients that I believe in,” he says.
Oliver Jones, 25, International
Property Communications Manager, ASDA Walmart
When Oliver Jones was just eighteen years old, a chance encounter with a local politician led to a high-profile internship with the U.K.’s Conservative Party. This was in the midst of the 2005 general election, and Jones spent most of the campaign jetting around the country with the party’s prime ministerial candidate, Michael Howard. His responsibilities included advance work and connecting with the press at each stopover.
A high point was a trip Jones organized to his hometown of Portsmouth, where Howard visited the naval harbor. “Bringing my campaign to my hometown and seeing it from above in a helicopter was an amazing experience,” says Jones.
In 2010, after graduating from Cambridge University, Jones re-entered Tory politics as campaign manager for parliamentary candidate Brandon Lewis. The race was a tough one, for a seat that was a prime target for the national party, but low on its list of likely pickups. Nonetheless, Jones’s team helped send Lewis to parliament by swinging the vote almost 9 points toward the Conservatives compared with the previous election.
After the election, Jones joined CBI, Britain’s main business lobby, as a senior campaign advisor working with the new Conservative government on increasing the role of private business in public services. This April, he became a property communications manager with ASDA, the U.K. branch of Walmart, where he helps the company secure government approval for new projects.
Despite his recent work in the private sector, Jones hasn’t left political campaigns behind. “We only have general elections every four or five years,” he says, “and there aren’t other elections at which you can earn money, so it’s really a case of filling my time between elections.”
Daniel Marquez, 31, International
Director, Marketing Politico en la Red
Daniel Marquez has been passionate about graphic and Web design from an early age. His passion for politics has matured a bit more slowly, but by now the two interests have found a common outlet in his work.
While studying graphic design at Aquino University in Bolivia, Marquez had his first brush with politics while designing and launching a website for a television network owned by Carlos Mesa Gisbert, who went on to become president of Bolivia. “Carlos Mesa Gisbert was a very wellknown politician and historian by then,” says Marquez. “I admired him as a person, so I was starstruck to meet him and privileged to work for him and then receive praise from him for the work I did.”
While spending a semester studying in Virginia, Marquez’s interest in politics grew, and he attended many classes at the Leadership Institute, which aims to hone the skills of conservative activists. Despite the institute’s conservative bent, Marquez has always been proud of his ideological independence. “I find that each side has very interesting points to make on each issue,” he says. “I try to stay in the middle.”
Indeed, Marquez is currently part of the team of designers for Coffee Party USA, a progressive group whose goal is to counter the influence of the Tea Party, and designed its logo of a steaming coffee cup set against an American flag.
Since finishing school, Marquez has continued to expand his portfolio of work, creating portals and platforms for private companies, individuals, governments, schools, and issue advocacy groups in Latin America and the United States. In 2010, he co-founded Marketing Politico en la Red, a Spanish-language blog for political consultants and students throughout Latin America and Spain interested in the art of political marketing and communications.
David L. Mowery, 33, Nonpartisan
Founder and President, Mowery Consulting Group, LLC
David Mowery is that rare breed of political consultant who works for the candidates that he believes are best fit to serve in office, regardless of party affiliation. What’s more, the founder and president of the Alabama-based Mowery Consulting Group has a solid track record of getting those candidates elected.
In 2008, Mowery managed the congressional campaign of then–Montgomery Mayor Bobby Bright. At the time, the district had not had a Democratic representative since 1964 and had earned a lopsided Cook Partisan Voting Index rating of R 16. With Mowery’s guidance, Bright won by just over half a point, while 63 percent of the district’s voters supported John McCain.
Mowery followed that success by managing the nonpartisan Montgomery mayoral campaign of then–County Commission Chairman Todd Strange in the special election to fill the office vacated by Bright. Strange went on to win an outright majority in the first round of voting against five opponents, avoiding the need for a runoff.
Mowery is often the top draft pick for candidates left, right, and center in the Yellowhammer State. Among the Republicans he has worked for are state Sen. Dick Brewbaker and state Rep. Donnie Chesteen. And, when state Sen. Harri Anne Smith
was dropped from the Republican primary ballot, he helped her win reelection as an independent.
Despite his success on both sides of the aisle, Mowery senses little animosity from staunch partisans. “You can end up in a place where people are suspicious of your motives,” he says, “but you do end up with the grudging respect of everybody because you keep delivering.”
Candice Osborne, 32, Nonpartisan
Founder, C&S Strategies
In 2009, Candice Osborne, a product manager and developer for WebMD interested in helping out in her adopted community of Jersey City, signed onto the City Council campaign of Steven Fulop as a volunteer coordinator. Immediately, she noticed room for improvement. “There was a lot of information floating around on various spreadsheets or written down,” she says. “Although it was an efficient campaign, it was very unproductive relative to the technology world.”
Osborne decided to bring some of her technological know-how to the campaign world, and C&S Strategies was born. Today, it offers a suite of mobile applications under the rubric Campaign Connect. One of the apps allows polling station monitors to beam information on who has voted back to campaign headquarters so it can allocate resources more efficiently. Another helps make volunteers more accountable by assigning them responsibility for turning out specific voters, and a third makes voter files more efficient by storing easily accessible information on individual voters that can be used for microtargeting and other purposes.
So far, Osborne’s applications have been put to work in a number of campaigns for municipal office in northern New Jersey, including Newark Mayor Cory Booker’s 2010 re-election campaign. All but one of these have been for Democrats, though Osborne is committed to making her tools available to all campaigns, regardless of party affiliation. Her ultimate goal is to increase turnout and voter participation across the board, helping to ensure that elected officials are responsive to the entire electorate, not just those segments, such as unions and municipal employees, that are good at turning out the vote.
Cesar Omar Martínez Salazar, 34, International
Director of Public Opinion Research, Cartello Group
Cesar Omar Martínez Salazar’s earliest political memories stretch back to childhood when his grandfather, a committeeman for Mexico’s long-dominant Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), would hold party meetings in the family house. Salazar recalls traveling the country with his grandfather to drop in on local campaigns, where he would closely observe how the candidates interacted with their constituents and party officials.
By the age of sixteen, Salazar had completed all of the PRI’s training courses and, in 1997, at the age of twenty-one, he was elected alderman in the city of Ciudad Victoria on the PRI line. After earning a master’s degree in political management at Florida International University, he returned to Mexico in 2002 as director of marketing for the PRI’s national committee.
Salazar broke with the PRI in 2004, opting to pursue a career as an independent consultant and work with those candidates he felt were best qualified, rather than just those approved by the PRI. As an independent consultant, he specialized in surveys and direct marketing for candidates and local governments.
In 2010, Salazar became director of public opinion research at Cartello Group. There, he has developed a new model of GOTV organization that uses social media to gauge the effectiveness of publicity campaigns created by the firm for its clients.
Aleix Sanmartìn, 31, International
Aleix Sanmartìn began to engage in the practice of politics only after developing an encyclopedic knowledge of the topic through academic study. Currently a Ph.D. candidate in public diplomacy and foreign affairs at the Complutense University of Madrid, he already holds a B.A. in political science and an M.A. in public opinion research with a specialist degree in political communication and management.
Helping Spanish Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero win re-election in 2008 is one of Sanmartìn’s proudest moments. “I remember when Dr. Miguel Ángel Moratinos Cuyaubé, secretary of foreign affairs of Spain, traveled from Brussels to Cordoba to personally congratulate me,” recalls Sanmartìn.
In 2009, Sanmartìn moved to Mexico, where he and a colleague, José Luis Sanchis, wrote Ganar el Poder (Gaining the Power). The book profiled eighty-six campaigns around the world for a Spanish-language audience.
Soon after the release of the book, the co-authors founded Sanmartìn and Sanchis, a Mexico City–based public relations firm, where their clients included the Mexico City government and Spain’s United Left, a coalition of leftist parties. In 2011, Sanmartìn struck out on his own and founded SanmartìnGroup, a messaging firm also based in Mexico City. Its focus is working with progressive and anti-poverty organizations and candidates throughout Latin America. The firm’s clients include the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front in El Salvador and the Mexican Party of the Democratic Revolution presidential candidate Marcelo Luis Ebrard Casaubón.
Aron Shaviv, 32, International
CEO, Shaviv Strategy and Campaigns Ltd.
Aron Shaviv, who is based in Israel, specializes in helping run research-driven campaigns for center-right candidates in Central and Eastern Europe. The democratic tradition in these countries may be a bit less developed than in the United States or Western Europe, and campaigning less advanced, but this offers all the more opportunity to have an impact.
“Once in a blue moon,” Shaviv says, “you actually get to touch history and shift it a fraction of an inch to the right or to the left.”
A campaign Shaviv worked on as a junior consultant fell into this category: the narrow 2008 victory of Serbian President Boris Tadic over a far-right opponent. Highlights since he launched his own consulting firm include rebranding the seven twenty-something leaders of the Moldovan Christian Democratic People’s Party as “The Magnificent Seven” in the run-up to parliamentary elections in 2009 and guiding to victory a Slovakian candidate for municipal office who, seven weeks before the election, had been polling at just 2.6 percent—over 40 points behind the incumbent. Shaviv finds that many of the candidates he works for have made attempts at polling, but haven’t gotten past measuring a snapshot of how the race stands at a given point.
“Most of the work I do is changing the patterns of public opinion research to be much more strategic in the sense of testing future messages, testing policy initiatives,” he says. The one place Shaviv won’t work is his home country. “As consultants, what we should be offering is complete objectivity,” he says, “which I find I can’t offer in Israel because in Israel every decision a politician makes affects myself, affects my family.”
Leo Wallach, 31, Nonpartisan
Vice President, Winner & Mandabach Campaigns
After an initial foray into journalism, Leo Wallach found himself “bit by the bug” of politics as the 2004 election cycle approached. The California native had his car packed and was set to drive across country to New Hampshire for the presidential primaries when he got a job offer from the Los Angeles–based firm Winner & Mandabach.
Wallach accepted, and a successful career in ballot propositions was born. (The firm works exclusively on Props, as they’re known in the Golden State.) In 2008 alone, Wallach worked in support of a series of propositions ratifying agreements on gambling between the state of California and a number of Native American tribes (all passed) and on a complicated eminent domain campaign in which his client opposed one proposition (which failed) and supported a competing one (which passed).
Wallach singles out last year’s “No on Proposition 23” campaign, on which he was in charge of coordinating a coalition of organizations, as his favorite so far. “It was a unique group of people—the environmental community, the business community, Republicans, and Democrats all defending California’s existing clean energy and carbon emissions law,” he recalls. “There was something about it that resonated nationally, and there was something really gratifying about that campaign.”
Working on ballot propositions is entirely different from working for a candidate or an independent expenditure, Wallach says. “You have to pay attention to how an issue is framed, educate voters on the context, and be extremely precise in the words you use,” he says. “You need a broad array of skills and competencies to succeed in this field.”