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Campaigns & Elections magazine today named its 2011 Rising Stars. One of the most prestigious honors in politics, the award goes to a select group of operatives age 35 and under who have an established track record of achievement in political consulting or advocacy and the promise to achieve greatness. From many worthy nominations, the magazine has selected 15 Republicans, 15 Democrats, and 10 nonpartisan or international operatives.
“The caliber of this year’s nominees was incredibly high, and choosing the winners was a real challenge,” said Shane Greer, publisher of Campaigns & Elections. “To make this list is an honor, but to be the custodians of the list is an honor that all of us at C&E recognize and feel humbled by.”
Rising Stars were first recognized in 1988 and have gone on to serve in the highest levels of government and political consulting. Past honorees include David Axelrod, Donna Brazile, James Carville, Alex Castellanos, Rahm Emanuel, Ben Ginsberg, Ed Goeas, Mike Murphy, Bill McInturff, and George Stephanopoulos. (Click here for the complete Rising Stars alumni list.)
The 2011 Rising Stars will be honored on June 17 at an event during our annual training seminar, The Art of Political Campaigning.
The Rising Stars of 2011 are:
Rory Cooper, 34, is director of communications at the Heritage Foundation, where he has played a key role in expanding and sharpening the think tank’s use of social media and helped shape debates over policy ranging from healthcare reform to the economy.
Nick Everhart, 31, is founder and president of Strategic Media Placement, Inc., the media-buying arm of the Strategy Group for Media. He is expert at squeezing out the most message in exchange for the fewest dollars on behalf of the firm’s clients.
Mark Harris, 26, is the managing partner of Cold Spark Media. In 2010, he earned plaudits for running an extremely effective operation as campaign manager on Pat Toomey’s Pennsylvania Senate bid.
Rachel Hillerman, 23, is vice president of political affairs at LVH Consulting. Last year, she took over as lead fundraiser on Kelly Ayotte’s New Hampshire U.S. Senate campaign just a few months after starting as an assistant.
Bob Honold, 31, is president of Honold Communications and a partner at Revolution Agency. During the 2010 cycle, as New York State director for the NRCC, he helped Republicans flip six House seats, more than in any other state.
Jackie Huelbig, 27, is senior director at Connell Donatelli, Inc., where she has run online advertising campaigns for an extensive list of marquee clients, including the 2008 McCain presidential campaign and Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s write-in re-election campaign.
Matt Mackowiak, 31, is president of Potomac Strategy Group, LLC. He managed the 2010 congressional campaign of Bill Flores, who defeated ten-term incumbent Texas Congressman Chet Edwards by an impressive 25 points.
Brock McCleary, 35, is deputy political director at the National Republican Congressional Committee, where he served as Northeast political director for the 2010 cycle and oversaw the pickup of fourteen U.S. House seats across the region.
Josh Robinson, 29, is political director for the Republican Governors Association. He launched his career as an operative in high school and has since worked for John McCain’s presidential campaign and the NRCC.
Bryan Sanders, 27, is a partner at Dresner Wickers Barber Sanders. A specialist in polling, focus group research, and media production and placement, he worked on the 2010 primary and general election campaigns of Alabama Governor Robert Bentley.
Scott Schweitzer, 35, is a partner with the Strategy Group for Media, where he oversees all post-production. He also writes, shoots, directs, and produces ads and supervises message strategy for several of the firm’s clients.
Jen Stolp, 29, is vice president of fundraising at Campaign Solutions, where she has posted impressive online fundraising numbers for clients such as Rep. Michele Bachmann, Senate candidate Carly Fiorina, and John McCain’s presidential campaign.
Erik Telford, 27, is director of membership and online strategy at Americans for Prosperity, where he has helped the right catch up with the left in terms of online activism and helped lay the groundwork for the emergence of the Tea Party
Nicholas Thompson, 32, is vice president at the Tarrance Group, where he works with campaign consultants nationwide to refine messaging and fine-tune targeting. In 2010, he helped defeat Blanche Lincoln in the Arkansas U.S. Senate race.
Trebor Worthen, 31, is the managing partner of Majority Designs, a direct mail consulting firm that he started while serving as an Oklahoma state representative. He has since retired from elected office to work as a consultant full time.
Robert Burkes, 28, is principal and director of operations at Zata|3, where he manages the database system and oversees operations to ensure that every calling program is executed according to plan.
Colin Campbell, 23, is an associate with Bill Lynch Associates. He managed Larry Hanley's upset campaign in the first successfully challenged election for Amalgamated Transit Union international president in twenty-nine years.
Scott Dworkin, 28, is founder and CEO of Bulldog Finance Group. He has established himself at the forefront of a new generation of Democratic fundraisers, with a smart, innovative approach to bringing in campaign cash.
Jamie Emmons, 30, is chief of staff for Lexington, Kentucky Mayor Jim Gray. In 2010, he managed Gray’s successful runoff campaign, helping him win election as an openly gay candidate in a conservative state.
Natalie LeBlanc, 32, is California managing director at the Pivot Group. She has made a name for herself producing effective, eye-catching mail that draws on rigorous testing and analysis.
Kathie Legg, 28, is senior social media and mobile manager for the DNC’s Organizing for America, where she has helped the Democratic Party surpass the Republican Party in Facebook fans and Twitter followers.
Rachel Napear, 34, is president of RMS, LLC. Having developed an early focus on Web design for political campaigns, she has become a recognized expert on new media in integrated political and marketing campaigns.
Ben Nuckels, 32, is vice president at Joe Slade White & Company. After taking over as campaign manager for Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn in May 2010, he helped turn around a dysfunctional operation and lead the governor to a narrow victory.
Bill Redding, 32, is an account executive at Catalist. After years of work on the East Coast, he spent six months in 2010 as statewide coordinated field director for the Arizona Democratic Party, where he won high marks for setting up a sophisticated field operation.
Colin Rogero, 33, is president of Revolution Media. After starting out in commercial advertising, he has applied his talents to efforts ranging from U.S. Senate independent expenditures to public affairs campaigns on behalf of immigrants.
Scott Simpson, 35, is a senior associate at Gumbinner & Davies Communications, where he has helped eke out an impressive string of wins in Virginia state legislative races over the last few years even as Democratic fortunes there have generally gone south.
Rory Steele, 33, is a partner at Argo Strategies. He played a key role in five states on the 2008 Obama campaign and served as direct mail consultant on a 2009 referendum effort that preserved Washington State’s domestic partnership law.
Dr. Aaron Strauss, 30, is senior analyst and director of decision analytics at the Mellman Group. He has done extensive groundbreaking work to put the power of computers, analysis, and experimentation to work for Democrats and progressives.
Matthew E. Weaver, 31, is a principal and co-founder of Bronstein & Weaver, Inc., where he brings a combination of analysis-driven microtargeting and fierce competitiveness to his work as a direct mail consultant.
Isaac Wright, 31, is CEO of Wright Strategies LLC. He has made a specialty of electing Democrats in unfriendly territory—helping Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon win election by 17 points in 2008 and Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe win by 31 points in 2010.
Jorge Domingo Gerez, 35, is partner and executive director of Quintella Gerez Branding Ltd., a firm he founded with the aim of connecting candidates with voters, despite the inconsistent reach of television signals in many parts of Latin America.
Bruno Hoffmann, 27, is founder and CEO of HoffGroup. A native of Brazil, he amassed years of schooling and experience in the United States before returning to pioneer online campaigning in his home country.
Oliver Jones, 25, is a property communications manager for ASDA Walmart. During the 2005 general election, he was an aide to U.K. Conservative prime ministerial candidate Michael Howard, and in 2010 he managed a successful campaign for parliament.
Daniel Marquez, 31, is director of 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.
David L. Mowery, 33, is founder and president of Mowery Consulting Group, LLC, where he helps Democrats, Republicans, and independents alike win elections in Alabama.
Candice Osborne, 32, is founder of C&S Strategies, which offers a suite of mobile applications that allow campaigns to apply the latest in technology to help them use GOTV resources efficiently, monitor volunteers, and make the most of voter file data.
Cesar Omar Martínez Salazar, 34, is director of public opinion research at Cartello Group, where he has developed a new model of GOTV organization that uses social media to gauge the effectiveness of publicity campaigns.
Aleix Sanmartìn, 31, is CEO of SanmartìnGroup, a Mexico City–based firm whose focus is working with progressive and anti-poverty organizations and candidates throughout Latin America.
Aron Shaviv, 32, is CEO of Shaviv Strategy and Campaigns Ltd. Based in Israel, he specializes in helping run research-driven campaigns for center-right candidates in Central and Eastern Europe.
Leo Wallach, 31, is vice president at Winner & Mandabach Campaigns, a California firm that works exclusively on ballot propositions. He has worked on successful campaigns involving global warming legislation, Native American gaming, and eminent domain.