The stage is still being set for the final midterm election of the Obama administration and while it's not easy to predict what will move D.C. several months from now, these leaders are sure to be in the mix. See the complete list of Influencers here.
Executive Director, National Republican Congressional Committee
A Hill and campaign veteran with a stint at ONE, a global non-profit, under her belt, Hickey is known for pulling out wins in tough districts. In fact, she helped then-Illinois Rep. Mark Kirk win reelection in the 2006 cycle despite being in the crosshairs of Democrats. If she works that same magic at the NRCC during a year with a smaller playing field, she’ll be instrumental in the GOP’s retention of its House majority.
Executive Director, House Majority PAC
If Nancy Pelosi is going to be speaker again, Ali Lapp will have something to do with it. A prodigious fundraiser and media strategist, Lapp’s Super PAC will be at the forefront of the 2014 campaign for the House. Lapp’s a veteran in the outside-spending game. As the deputy director of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in 2006, Lapp directed its independent expenditure efforts as her party won back the majority. She’ll be hoping for the same result in 2014.
President, Message Global
With references from Bono and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, McCue’s resume includes founding a Super PAC and her own consulting firm. Not content with confining her influence to top-level races in 2013 she also launched a new Super PAC targeted at state legislative races. For the 2014 cycle, she’ll be heading up Majority PAC, the outside group tasked with helping Democrats retain their current Senate majority. Known as one of Washington’s toughest operators and most connected strategists, McCue is also on the board of American Bridge, the party’s Super PAC research arm.
Partner, McKenna Pihlaja
The Baltimore-based Democratic strategist helped build EMILY’s List into the political force it is today. McKenna’s resume covers everything from opposition research to candidate recruitment. In 2014, McKenna will be managing the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee's independent expenditure operation for the second cycle in a row, and the firm will be engaged in a slew of House and Senate campaigns, as well as IE work for EMILY’s List and FWD.us.
Political Director, AFL-CIO
Ask any union politico from D.C. to L.A. to name the brains behind labor’s campaign brawn, and they’ll point to Podhorzer. The 25-year labor veteran’s analytical skills extend beyond the AFL’s 16th street headquarters. Podhorzer is also co-chairman of Catalist and has board seats on America Votes, Committee on States, Progressive Majority and the Latino Engagement Fund. Podhorzer was an early proponent of the Democratic Party’s interest in data and randomized-controlled experiments—an approach that has helped cement the left’s strategic and data edge over the past two presidential cycles.
Senior Account Executive, Google
A Bush administration veteran who also served as the president’s first post-White House spokesman, Saliterman is now Google’s point man for Republican candidates and causes. When it comes to helping the GOP bridge the digital divide, his expertise will be key. And with the economy a lingering issue in 2014, Saliterman’s Treasury Department and Bloomberg LP background could also come in handy.
Craig T. Smith
mCapitol Management/Ready for Hillary
The White House political director under Bill Clinton, Smith is part of the political family’s inner circle going to back to the Arkansas days. As Hillary Clinton edges back into campaign politics, his advice will be instrumental in where she places her efforts in 2014. In addition to collecting donors and data that can aid another Clinton White House run, Ready for Hillary recently announced its intention to play down the ballot in 2014 with the goal of demonstrating its grassroots prowess for candidates considered Clinton allies.
Founding Partner, 270 Strategies
Stewart has inherited the mantle of field guru first bestowed to the likes of fellow South Dakotan Steve Hildebrand. He joined the Obama campaign in its Iowa infancy and is credited with helped launch the president’s successful 2008 primary campaign as Iowa caucus director. During the 2012 cycle, Stewart was battleground states director at Obama for America where he helped build one of the most impressive campaign ground organizations in presidential campaign history. Now, Stewart is among a group of Obama consultants who have launched their own firms and are aiming to bring the campaign’s tactics to the field for other Democrats in 2014. Stewart’s firm worked New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker’s special election race and counts the Ready for Hillary PAC as a client.
Partner, Something Else Strategies
Making her home in Dothan, Alabama gives Thompson the kind of bird’s eye perspective that candidates from Mike McFadden in Minnesota to Ed Lindsay in Georgia call upon. When not advising candidates, Thompson’s media expertise is sought after by GOP decision makers ranging from Florida Sen. Marco Rubio to National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Greg Walden, making her among the top voices on the right side of the consulting world, and one of the few female Republican media consultants.
Founder, Women Lead
The GOP has a problem winning female voters and some see recruitment of female candidates as a remedy. Toretti, a talented fundraiser with a sterling business background, formed a Super PAC this year to connect big donors with female candidates. Her main goal: convincing top female donors that they should concentrate their money to female candidates in an effort to increase their influence in the Republican campaign world. If the GOP narrows the gap on female voters in 2014, Women Lead will deserve some credit.