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Campaign Bosses with Best Track Records in RI Governor’s Race

Monday, February 03, 2014

 

See who's behind managing the 2014 RI gubernatorial races -- and how they've fared at the helm in big races to date.

As the 2014 Rhode Island gubernatorial candidates continue to set their sights on November, GoLocal took a look at who's managing their operations -- and what their track records have been to date.

"It is important to have campaign managers with significant electoral experience. They need to understand media relations, field operations, fundraising, and social media outreach. Those are all vital parts of contemporary campaigns. Knowing how to do each things is crucial for electoral success," said Brookings Institution Vice President and Director of Governance Studies Darrell West.

West continued, "Managers with a track record of winning count for a lot because it demonstrates they have put together a strong organization. But close losses also count because it shows these individuals managed competitive races."

Seasoned public affairs consultant Cara Cromwell noted as well that losing efforts weren't always in vain.  "It sounds like a bad sports cliche, but you learn more on a losing campaign than a winning one simply because in a loss you rethink every decision. When you win, you focus on the outcome, not what you did to get there," said Cromwell.  

See Win-Loss Percentages BELOW

All of the campaigns have seasoned directors at the helm, with varying degrees of experience and success among them.

Danny Kedem with Mayor Angel Taveras had previously been with New York mayoral candidate Anthony Wiener, who was involved in texting scandals both while serving in Congress before ultimately resigning, and once again while running for the Big Apple's top post.

Eric Hyers with Gina Raimondo had previously overseen successful David Cicilline campaigns among others, and Devin Driscoll with Clay Pell has extensive grassroots and national experience with President Obama -- but to date hasn't managed a statewide candidate campaign.   Rounding out the field of Democratic candidates is Todd Giroux, who ran in 2010 as an Independent.

Most of the operatives in the 2014 gubernatorial race have extensive experience, to varying degrees of success. Who can win in November?

On the Republican side, seasoned political operatives Jeff Britt with Ken Block and consultant Patrick Sweeney with Allan Fung are vying for the primary nod before a run in the general election -- familiar territory to both.

Veteran political analyst and pollster Victor Profughi noted however that those managing the campaign can be distinct from a consultant's role -- and might not always been the ones calling the shots. 

"Campaign managers often do very little of the creative work and analysis associated with the campaign. They tend to manage what others (consultants) tell them to do," said Profughi. "That's why I prefer the term consultant to manager. Many managers are long time candidate friends and/or local politicos chosen as much for friendship and local recognition as for anything else."

Staying the course?

While the campaigns appear to have leadership teams firmly in place, both West and Profughi weighed on what happens when a campaign opts to change leadership prior to the election, which although hasn't happened in Rhode Island to date, could be something to watch for in the coming months.  

"Shaking up a campaign operation mid-stream is a big problem because it shows that things are not going well and there are disagreements about vision, strategy, or operational details," said West. "It often is hard to come back with a new team because any new set of managers takes time before he or she can produce results."

Profughi offered his thoughts on campaigns calling in a relief pitcher.

"Changes frequently take place when a candidate is slipping or having trouble getting the campaign to click with voters. The result record is mixed. In general, campaigns should do a careful job in the initial selection, have a campaign plan in place for the entire campaign, and stick with it.," said Profughi. "If the campaign chemistry is right from the start, by all means don't change. If a change needs to happen--the sooner the better. My experience suggests that changing campaign managers and/or consultants is rarely a good idea." 

 

Related Slideshow: Win-Loss Records for 2014 Gubernatorial Candidates’ Campaign Managers

Oftentimes operating largely behind the scenes, a candidate's campaign manager or consultant plays an instrumental role in the outcome of the race.  

The 2014 Rhode Island Gubernatorial candidates have assembled their campaign teams -- and managers, all of whom bring extensive political operative experience to the table.  

Below is a look at the "batting average" of past efforts of the current set of top operatives when they were at the helm of other political races.  

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Eric Hyers - Campaign Manager, Gina Raimondo

Congressman David Cicilline's 2010 Campaign:  WON

Congressman David Cicilline's 2012 Campaign: WON

NJ State Senator Nia Gill's 2013 Campaign: WON

MA State Sen. Karen Spilka 2013 Congressional Campaign:  LOST

Winning Percentage: .750

Hyers, who cut his teeth organizing for for now-Senator Kirsten Gillibrand when she first ran for Congress in 2006, worked as a field organizer for John Edwards for President in the 2008 Iowa caucuses, directed a statewide field operation in Wyoming, managed state legislative races in Virginia and New Jersey, and served as the Executive Director of the Connecticut Democratic Party. 

Hyers scored big while managing campaigns in New Jersey and Rhode Island, but came up short most recently in Massachusetts.  

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Danny Kedem - Campaign Manager, Angel Taveras

Anthony Wiener's 2013 New York Mayoral Campaign:  QUIT

New Haven Mayor John DeStefano's 2011 Campaign:  WON

Winning Percentage: .500

Kedem joined Wiener's political comeback bid after Weiner had resigned from Congress in a sexting scandal -- only to leave when Wiener once more was caught continuing the habit, spelling his downfall once again.  

Connecticut Magazine's Jennifer Swift delineated Kedem's campaign history as having successful managed a New Haven mayoral bid, as well as outlining Kedem's early days organizing for Missouri Democrat Claire McCaskill’s U.S. Senate campaign and Hillary Clinton's 2008 run for the presidency.

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Jeff Britt -- Campaign Consultant, Ken Block

2002 Bruce Bayuk RI General Assembly Write-In Campaign: LOST

2006 RI Governor Donald Carcieri Campaign:  WON

2012 Mark Binder RI General Assembly Campaign: LOST

Winning Percentage: .333

Seasoned political operative Britt lost close races in Bayuk and Binder, but scored big with Carcieri while working alongside Ken McKay.  Following the Bayuk effort, Britt served in the "Carcieri 1" administration to work across the aisle and support GOP efforts statewide.  

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Patrick Sweeney -- Campaign Consultant, Allan Fung

2010 John Loughlin Congressional Campaign: LOST

2012 Barry Hinckley Senate Campaign: LOST

Winning Percentage: .000

The former Executive Director of the Rhode Island Republican Party has extensive campaign and consulting experience, but is still looking to win big spearheading a major candidate effort.  

Sweeney was Deputy Campaign Manager for Loughlin in 2010.  

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Devin Driscoll -- Campaign Manager, Clay Pell

Northeast Regional Director, Organizing for Action

Communications Director, Rhode Islanders United for Marriage

Winning Percentage:  N/A

Driscoll has headed up successful grassroots efforts and served on the Obama for America campaign in two separate stints, as Rhode Island state director for the 2012 campaign and as a field organizer in 2008.  Managing Pell's run for Governor marks Driscoll's first bid to win a statewide office campaign.  

 
 

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