BRIAN BROKAW brings expertise in campaign consulting, strategic communications and public affairs to his political and private sector clients. Since opening his firm in 2010, Brokaw has served as a political and communications advisor to prominent elected officials, technology investors and global tech firms, social justice advocates, labor and business coalitions, professional sports franchises, renewable energy companies and public utilities, Indian tribes, healthcare sector clients and non-profit organizations. In 2014, he was named to CalNewsroom’s list of the “100 best, brightest, and most indispensable people in California politics.” The U.K. Guardian has called him “a top Democratic strategist in the state.”
Brokaw presently serves as senior political advisor to California Governor Gavin Newsom. He previously managed the campaign for California’s Proposition 64, which legalized the adult use of marijuana in the state. Prop 64, spearheaded by Newsom and philanthropist Sean Parker, passed with 57% of the statewide vote in November 2016 — the widest margin of any legalization measure in the nation.
Brokaw served as campaign manager for Kamala Harris’s successful candidacy for California Attorney General in 2010, one of the closest campaigns in state history in which Harris became the first female and first minority ever elected to the office, and in her re-election campaign in 2014. He also served as a senior advisor in Harris’s successful campaign for United States Senate in 2015-16. Harris’s margin of victory was the largest win by a non-incumbent senator in 100 years. He remains an adviser to Harris.
Working with prominent Silicon Valley investors, Brokaw managed the independent expenditure campaign that helped elect San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee in 2011. The campaign produced a music video — “2 Legit 2 Quit” — that was recognized as the best political video of the year by Time, the New York Times, and the Washington Post, and was cited as a “case study” by YouTube. The campaign subsequently morphed into a tech-sector political advocacy organization that Brokaw helped to create, sf.citi.
With more than a decade of experience in California politics, Brokaw has been involved in some of the highest profile statewide candidate and ballot measure campaigns in recent memory. In 2014, he worked to help pass Proposition 1 (Governor Jerry Brown’s water bond) and Proposition 42 (public records). During the 2012 election cycle, Brokaw directed communications in the contentious campaign to defeat Proposition 32 (union dues).
Brokaw also worked on the successful campaigns for Propositions 94-97 (Indian gaming compacts) in 2008 and Proposition 71 (stem cell research) in 2004.
From 2006-2008, Brokaw was a consultant with Acosta|Salazar LLC, specializing in media relations, political coalitions and message development.
Featured Winner Interview:
AAPC: To what do you credit your success at such a young age?
Brian: Sticking with it! So many of the people I worked with at the beginning of my career either burned out of working on campaigns, or went into government, or switched careers entirely. And I don’t blame them at all. I’ve learned that the longer you stay in the game, the more experience you gain, and as long as you do consistently good work and are honest, people will listen to you.
AAPC: What advice would you give to a young professional who has their eye on being a future 40 Under 40 Award winner?
Brian: Observe, study, absorb the habits and techniques of the consultants to aspire to be like one day. The people who are at the top of our field are usually there for a reason — or many reasons. And we can learn a lot from them. So, it’s not always enough just to do good work — you should put yourself in a position to learn from the best, emulate their best attributes, and you’ll end up in their seat eventually. Also, get to know people who are involved in AAPC… that should help too.
AAPC: What’s the most positive development in political campaigns since you started your career?
Brian: With each passing election cycle I see more and more diversity in the ranks of political consultants, campaign staff and even volunteers. Campaigns, especially in California, are becoming more representative of the electorate as a whole, in my opinion. Also, there are more and more ways for people to get involved in campaigns these days, thanks in large part to social media and innovations in online organizing tools, etc. Back in the old days, volunteers used to have to show up at campaign HQ in order to be helpful. It wasn’t that long ago when I had to beg law firms or other businesses with a lot of landlines to let me take over their space at night to staff a phone bank. Now, volunteers can be involved from their neighborhoods, or even their couches as long as they have a phone and internet connection.