My time in politics began accidentally in 1992 when my brother’s religious school instructor inquired about my availability for an internship. I wasn’t pursuing work at the time while home on break from college but took the opportunity to support Vice President Dan Quayle in the White House.
That summer presented rare opportunities to see the inner workings of the executive branch and my introduction to the intersection of technology and politics. I was stationed in the Vice President’s Office of Administration and Special Projects and assisted with duties ranging from supporting a relief supply effort to Africa to laying ISDN line on the second floor of the Old Executive Office Building. To this day I don’t understand why GSA didn’t do the work, but I helped a supervisor lift carpet and lay line connecting the computers on the second floor based in my office (Room # 276 1/2).
Following Bill Clinton’s 1992 election victory I accepted an internship at CNN in the Washington, DC bureau. Soon thereafter I joined the news network as a full-time employee and helped produce the political debate gabfest, Crossfire, co-hosted by Michael Kinsley on the Left and Robert Novak or Pat Buchanan on the “Right”.
In late 1995, while still at Crossfire, host Michael Kinsley offered me an opportunity to head West joining him in launching Slate, Microsoft’s first online politics and culture magazine. I packed up my full-size Ford Bronco and left the East Coast in the rear view mirror. While at Microsoft, I created the political advertising unit within the US Sales Team to support presidential candidates in the 2000 election cycle. Some of the first ever online political ads appeared on MSN.com, the Microsoft Network, from John McCain and Bill Bradley. Working with Microsoft’s team of lawyers to think through how “equal time” online might be interpreted by the Federal Election Commission was a rare opportunity to define a new category.
In 2006 I headed to Southern California to work for the Yahoo! and was asked to lead a team creating the web portal’s 2008 Presidential Election Campaign Hub. As a part of this we recruited Hillary Clinton and John McCain to pose questions on Yahoo! Answers and Mitt Romney to Jumpcut to interact with voters online. Not long after meeting with members of Barack Obama’s campaign team in Chicago I received a call from a friend helping search for a new director of the digital efforts for the Republican National Committee. So instead of helping candidates find voters on Yahoo! I relocated back to Northern Virginia to help find voters online for the GOP.
While less successful than Obama’s digital campaign team in victory, we made great strides at the RNC including launching the nation’s first ever crowdsourced party platform and voter file matching over 40 million individuals online. Following the election I filed this missive with the e-Voter Institute where I serve as an adviser and returned to the West Coast.
Following the 2012 election and Barack Obama’s further use of technology to influence the electorate I co-founded a start-up called Crowdverb focused on using technology to identify and mobilize center-right voters into action. Not long after launching Crowdverb we were acquired by one of WPP’s public affairs divisions, Burson-Marsteller, headquartered in Washington, DC. Our political clients include supporting the 2014 re-election of US Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, as described by the Huffington Post.
I assisted Washington State Gubernatorial candidate Bill Bryant during his 2016 campaign for Governor against incumbent Gov. Jay Inslee.