Haley Barbour, Alexander Gage and Mandy Grunwald Receive Lifetime Achievement Award

May 9, 2022

Alana Joyce
Executive Director
[email protected]


Haley Barbour, Alexander Gage and Mandy Grunwald Receive Lifetime Achievement Award

AAPC Announces 2022 Hall of Fame Inductees


Washington, D.C. (May 9, 2022) — The American Association of Political Consultants (AAPC) — America’s largest and only bipartisan network of political professionals — announced Haley Barbour, Alexander Gage, and Mandy Grunwald as this year’s inductees into the AAPC Hall of Fame. The awards will be presented at a ceremony on Wednesday, May 18, 2022, sponsored by Home Team Sports, Playfly and Political Marketing + Media in conjunction with the annual AAPC Pollie Awards & Conference in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

AAPC annually selects accomplished industry professionals for induction into its Hall of Fame. This is the highest honor that working members of the profession can bestow upon a colleague. The award recognizes honorees’ influence on other political consultants and public affairs professionals, the length and seriousness of their careers and their commitment to ethical business practices.

“It’s a privilege to honor such innovative and high-achieving individuals and firms in the industry,” said AAPC President Becki Donatelli.

“The impact that this year’s Hall of Fame inductees have had on the political consulting industry is immeasurable. We are excited to celebrate their achievements in person at the Pollie Conference,” added AAPC Vice President Larry Huynh.

“Home Team Sports, Playfly Sports and Political Marketing + Media are thrilled to take part in honoring this year’s Hall of Fame inductees,” said Stephen Ullman, Managing Partner of Political Marketing + Media. “The impact Alex, Haley and Mandy have had on this industry is outstanding and is well deserving of celebration.”

Previous Hall of Fame inductees include Lee Atwater, David Axelrod, Ross Bates, Paul Begala, Charlie Black, James Carville, Alex Castellanos, Joseph Cerrell, Wally Clinton, Roger Craver, Morris S. Dees, Linda DiVall, Thomas Edmonds, Arthur Finkelstein, Joseph Gaylord, David Garth, Bob Goodman, George Gorton, Stanley Greenberg, William Hamilton, Peter D. Hart, Allen Hoffenblum, Gale Kaufman, Donna Lucas, Eddie Mahe, Jr., Ellen Malcolm, Hal Malchow, Jim Margolis, Minyon Moore, Joe Napolitan, Lyn Nofziger, David Plouffe, Matt Reese, Ed Rollins, Karl Rove, Robert Shrum, Lionel Sosa, Stuart Spencer, Bob Squire, Greg Stevens, Ray Strother, Tony Schwartz, V. Lance Tarrance, Jr., Robert Teeter, Nancy Todd, Paul Tully, Richard Viguerie, F. Clifton White and Dick Woodward.

About the 2022 AAPC Hall of Fame Inductees

Haley Barbour, Founding Partner of BGR Group, returned to BGR in January 2012 after serving two consecutive terms as Governor of Mississippi, including two years as the Chairman of the Republican Governors Association. At BGR, he heads advocacy coalitions, lobbies on behalf of clients and remains a major force in Republican party politics and elections. Gov. Barbour began his political career in 1968, dropping out of college to work on Richard Nixon’s presidential campaign; he later served as Political Director of the Reagan White House. From 1993 to 1997, Gov. Barbour served as Chairman of the Republican National Committee. In 2003, he was elected Governor of Mississippi, assuming office in January 2004. After Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast in 2005, Gov. Barbour received national recognition from the bipartisan American Legislative Exchange Council for his swift response to the worst natural disaster in American history. For his efforts to rebuild the Mississippi Gulf Coast, he received the Thomas Jefferson Freedom Award. The Hill newspaper has listed Gov. Barbour as one of Washington’s top lobbyists annually since his return to the firm in 2012.

Alexander Patton Gage began his professional career in 1974 as a survey research analyst at Market Opinion Research (MOR), where Robert M. Teeter, considered one of the founders of modern political campaign research, tapped Gage to be a part of the 1976 campaign for President Gerald R. Ford. Gage has participated in various capacities in every GOP presidential campaign since then. In 2003, Gage left MOR and founded TargetPoint Consulting, Inc., where he was a pioneer in the emerging field of microtargeting. Today, TargetPoint remains a leader in microtargeting and public opinion research. A constant innovator, Gage left TargetPoint in 2016 to focus his attention on G2 Analytics, a market research firm he co-founded to revolutionize how video content is measured and analyzed. Under his leadership, G2 Analytics has become a leader in political video testing.

Mandy Grunwald is the founder and president of Grunwald Communications, one of the leading Democratic media firms in the country and the most successful woman-owned media consultancy ever. Mandy is one of the few women at the top of the field, has elected numerous Senators and Governors and is the only woman in history to run the advertising for a successful presidential campaign (Bill Clinton’s). Mandy has helped elect six current Senators — Senator Tammy Baldwin, Senator Richard Blumenthal, Senator John Hickenlooper, Senator Amy Klobuchar, Senator Jeanne Shaheen and Senator Elizabeth Warren, and worked on successful independent expenditures for Senators Sherrod Brown, Maggie Hassan, Mark Kelly, Chris Murphy and Jackie Rosen. She is also known for her work for all Hillary Clinton’s Senate and Presidential campaigns.

About the 2022 AAPC Pollie Conference

As the premier industry event, the 2022 Pollie Awards & Conference is held in San Juan, Puerto Rico from May 17-19, 2022, and brings the leading political professionals in the world together to network and hear from top technology innovators, pollsters, pundits and service providers. The Conference features cutting-edge programming on key industry trends, designed to empower attendees to leverage the latest techniques in campaign strategy and management. The Conference is widely recognized as the must-attend event for political consultants, media buyers, public affairs specialists, suppliers, industry leaders and journalists. For details, visit www.theaapc.org.

About AAPC

Founded in 1969, the AAPC is a multi-partisan organization of political and public affairs professionals dedicated to improving democracy. The AAPC has over 1,500 members hailing from all corners of the globe. It is the largest association of political and public affairs professionals in the world. For more information, see www.theaapc.org.

About Political Marketing + Media

Founded in 2014, Political Marketing + Media specializes in matching political candidates, committees + advocacy groups with the best local, regional + national sports, news and entertainment programming and events. For more information, see politicalmarketingandmedia.com.

AAPC Partners on #TrustedInfo2022

The dissemination of accurate election information is a core value for AAPC and we are excited to support , an education initiative spearheaded by the National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS).

 will help get voters the information they need to effectively participate in our democracy by highlighting election officials as the trusted sources for credible election information.

In this important election year, political consultants have the ability to make a huge impact. By educating voters about the  initiative, we can drive them directly to election officials’ websites and verified social media pages. This effort will ensure people are getting accurate election information and cut down on the misinformation and disinformation that can surround elections.

Voters can find their election official by visiting , an easy-to-use nonpartisan website maintained by NASS.

You can learn more about  by !

On the Campaign Trail: Insights from the Biden for President Campaign

The AAPC recently caught up with pollsters Celinda Lake and John Anzalone from the Biden for President campaign who shared their experience on their success from the 2020 Presidential campaign. The team is also the recipient of AAPC’s 2021 Democratic Campaign of the Year Award.

What specific team efforts contributed to the success of the campaign?

“Team” permeated the campaign from the beginning and that really contributed to the success. The pollsters worked very well together, solicited each other’s opinions, shared data and methodology, and clearly understood from day one that we were all in this together while facing a very difficult task in the primary and the general. This campaign had remarkable coordination between the “big data” operation and the polling and we worked hard to share methodology and compare insights and findings for the maximum impact. The entire team was very message oriented and benefitted from interactions with the policy people. We also were led by an amazing message team with Mike Donilon and Anita Dunn. The field operation and Jenn Ridder worked hard to implement the findings across mediums and to understand the value of traditional and big data targeting. Jennifer O’Malley Dillon set a strong tone from day one of “one team” and did an amazing job of assembling and leading a campaign virtually. First and foremost we were also led by a candidate and spouse who listened to the data, knew who they were and their values, and were open to good and bad news.

What tools did your team use to keep the campaign organized?

The tools that we used as pollsters were daily conversations, exchanging all materials and drafts, and sharing insights from all the work we were doing. Deep respect and affection and a good sense of humor helped us throughout. In our firm and in all their firms we were aided with such strong teams and partners.

How big of a role did social media marketing play in the success of the campaign?

Constant monitoring of social media by the DNC was superb, as well as the exchange of information so that we could compare what we were seeing in the polling with what was happening in social media responses, and flexible rapid testing using social media.

What was the biggest obstacle that your team faced on the campaign trail, and how did you overcome it?

Two big obstacles occurred. It’s hard to speak on the difficulty of exchanging information and having input when everything is socially distanced and on zoom. The sharing of information had to be formalized. It made it much harder to have input and to share than when we were all in one place. We overcame it with really good coordination from Julia Kennedy and a deep commitment to full sharing. We experimented with a variety of state and national coordination meetings. The state teams were also very data oriented and did an excellent job of consuming the data. The second obstacle was the difficulty of beating Donald Trump. The campaign and Joe Biden knew from day one how extraordinarily difficult that was. Then came the overlay of COVID-19 and the impact that had on field and GOTV. There was also the third stage of the campaign to protect the vote which our firm transitioned to day after the election.

What did you find most rewarding about working on this campaign?

The most rewarding part of the campaign was the success of the unity message and the economic message which were so authentic to Joe Biden. That was rivaled by the reward of beating Donald Trump. I truly believed from day one that Joe Biden was the candidate to beat Trump. It was very rewarding to work with such a talented group of pollsters to get the job done, share information and learn so much from them. It was rewarding to see our research turned directly in days to communications. It was very rewarding to work with two such powerful, principled women in Dr. Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris.

Spotlight: AAPC Class of 2021 40 Under 40 Awardees

CEO, Parabellum Public Affairs

1. How did you first get involved in politics? I graduated from Cal Berkeley undergrad in 2007 and thought: what’s recession proof? Politics.

2. What is the best career advice you’ve ever received? “Treat me good and I’ll treat you better. Treat me bad and I’ll treat you worse.” – Sonny Barger, Hells Angels

3. What was your first impression of the industry? What is your impression now? Not enough folks want to collaborate and improve their chances of winning. Not much has changed.

4. What do you wish other people knew about political consulting? I don’t care what you are hiring for, if you see political campaign experience on a resume, you should know that person has had a baptism by fire in: fundraising, interpersonal dynamics, messaging, strategy, writing, sales, civics, public speaking, media relations, public policy, managing teams, managing expectations, statistics, psychology and working very long hours.



Founder & CEO, Top Drawer Strategies

1. How did you first get involved in politics? My first political activity was viewing a Clinton Gore rally from the shoulders of my grandfather on a cold November night in Ohio. Up past my bedtime, waiting long into the night I couldn’t understand why we were standing around. But, when they came on stage, with Fleetwood Mac blaring, six year old me was officially hooked for life.

2. What is your favorite campaign you have ever been involved in? My favorite campaign was “Yes on 2” to end the use of non-unanimous juries via constitutional amendment. Donors and activists from the extreme fringes banded together to change one of the most racist laws on the books. I doubt I’ll ever get to manage a campaign that involves people with such diverse views on the same side of a very good fight.

3. What do you wish other people knew about political consulting? A lot of people think political consulting is all about playing on fears and divisions. But, to win a campaign it’s almost always necessary to meet voters where they are. That means leading with a message of unity and relatability is typically what we’re working on. I wish more people knew how earnestly we try to make our spaces and our nation better through creativity and skill you can only get working in politics.


During AAPC’s most recent webinar, participants received tips on payment automation, unique ways to manage cash and more in preparation for yet another anticipated record breaking election cycle up ahead.

Key takeaways:

  • Onboarding protocol: Media planners and strategists move a lot of money in a short amount of time. The security of this money cannot be sacrificed for the speed of it. It is so important to have an onboarding protocol in place for new clients in order to keep everyone’s information safe. It has become common to see fraudulent emails asking for wire transfers. It is always worth it to make that extra phone call to your client to double check before assuming the legitimacy of any financial communication.
  • Process automation: With process automation, you can do more work, more efficiently, faster, and with less people. Investing in solutions that streamline the process for agencies can include revisions, electronic vendor confirmations, and more. This reduces data entry and increases the speed of payments. The electronic connectivity helps the media buyers and sellers really streamline their processes.
  • Key to success for business owners: Business owners are so hyper aware of every dollar they spend and have to think a lot about low overhead. Cash management and budgeting is critical. If your programs are not making money, strategic decisions need to be made on what to cut and what to keep. You’ll be glad to have financial systems and best practices in place early when the time for big spending comes.

Click  to listen to the full recording for more insights!

Political Image Usage: Do’s and Don’ts

Content is more important than ever. AAPC caught up with Uri Davidov from Getty Images to talk about the 3 most important things to keep in mind when selecting images for political use and .

1. Authenticity: It is important to choose content that resonates with your audience. If you aren’t connecting with your audience, then advertisements do not hold as much power. Getty Images has started to put together  of themes that are important throughout the market. For example, Getty has a collection of images of women from all different backgrounds, considering over 70% of women don’t feel represented in the ads that are targeting them. In the “Show Us” collection, all photographers are women and there is no photoshop. Authentic is actually one of the keywords that Getty has added to the search function. When you search “authentic,” you’ll see real people in the moment rather than posed.

2. License: You must remember to read through the terms and conditions. Many places don’t allow their images for political use, might have a fee associated with political use, or require permission. These businesses typically operate like a marketplace and often don’t have direct relationships with contributors and photographers. Most times, their money is made from indemnity claims, which can range from $10,000 – $1,000,000.

3. Location: It is essential to use photos that were shot in the United States. Pete Buttigieg was called out for using a free stock photo image of a mother and son in Kenya. Donald Trump was called out for using photos shot in Russia. Getty Images has a location filter available if you’re looking to target a certain geographical location.

Case in point: You’re making a campaign ad or mailer that showcases the natural beauty of your candidate’s district or state.

Do: Use imagery from the district that the campaign is in. If the campaign is statewide, make sure the imagery is from your state.

Don’t: Use imagery that is not properly licensed.

Scholarship Recipient Shares Impressions of Pollies ’21

Thanks to your generous donations, the  provides scholarships to students who have shown a career interest in political consulting and public affairs an opportunity to attend the annual AAPC Pollie Awards & Conference.

This year, the AAPC Foundation selected Christine Cockley, a student from Ohio University pursuing a Master’s in Public Administration. We caught up with Christine to talk about her experience at the 2021 Pollie Conference.

AAPC: What was your biggest takeaway from the 2021 Pollie Conference?

Christine: I realized that I really miss working in the public sector professionally. Attending the educational sessions and networking with professionals in this space solidified my interest in the consulting field. When I first applied for the scholarship, I didn’t know that I was going to encounter so many intelligent people that work together across party lines.

AAPC: What new skills did you gain through this experience?

Christine: I was reminded that it is possible to get back into Conferences and networking even through a pandemic. It can be uncomfortable to put yourself out there during these times but rebuilding my networking skills is so essential to my career path.

AAPC: What was your favorite session and why?

Christine: My favorite session was Building Your Public Affairs Business because it was very applicable to my own interests. Trey Richardson was a phenomenal speaker and it was great to hear the success stories of all the speakers.

AAPC: What advice would you give to other young professionals looking to attend the Pollie Conference for the first time?

Christine: While networking is so important, you need to remember to sit back and soak in your surroundings. Instead of walking up to everyone you see, be aware of your surroundings and network mindfully. Take a mental note of the people you meet and connect with them on LinkedIn. When you send a request, go out of your way to mention a specific piece of your conversation so they remember who you are and where you met. Also, don’t forget to bring your business cards!

AAPC: If you were to describe this experience in one word, what would it be?

Christine: Unforgettable.

Recall Elections: What made California different and what to know going into 2022

AAPC followed up with Democratic consultants working in California to get their takes on what made the Newsom recall campaign different than any other. Read below for insights from Brian Brokaw, political advisor to California Governor Gavin Newsom and Ace Smith, Partner at Bearstar Strategies and Strategist for Governor Newsom.

How does a recall election differ from the regular election cycle? (i.e. campaign finance, timeframe, messaging, strategy, etc.)

Brian: Too many ways to list them all! Some key differences — the typical election year campaign contribution limits do not apply in a recall. We were able to accept six, seven figure contributions. The recall date isn’t known until only several months out, so you have to plan and execute in a much shorter time frame. It’s more like a “snap election” in a parliamentary government than a typical election.

Ace: Traditionally paid persuasion is mainly about persuading folks how to vote – this election required us to use paid communications to persuade people to get out and vote. Because the recall was an off-year election, on a non-November date we spent many of our resources letting voters know: There is an important election on September 14th.

What are the challenges associated with recall campaigns? How do you overcome these challenges?

Brian: First and foremost — we had to motivate voters to vote “NO” on the recall. In other words, we had to turn out voters and convince them to take action to oppose something that they didn’t believe should be happening. It’s a much different and more complicated exercise than motivating voters to take action FOR something. Additionally, two questions appear on the California gubernatorial recall ballot. The first asks if the governor should be recalled. The second question is contingent on passage of the first question, and lists the dozens of replacement candidates. So we had to persuade and turn out voters to vote NO on the first question, and then encouraged them to leave the second question blank. There was a lot of potential for voter confusion, but judging by the final results, confusion wasn’t an issue in this race.

Ace: The biggest challenge was to never allow this election to become a referendum on the Governor, but instead make it into a clear choice between the Governor and Larry Elder.

What was the impact of the September 14th recall election in California?

Brian: Not only did Governor Newsom defeat the recall — he defeated the recall by a resounding margin. As a result, he emerges from this recall in a position of strength as he heads into a re-election year in 2022.

Ace: The largest impact will be felt way beyond the borders of California. People across the country now understand that you can be bold on COVID mandates and not suffer politically. In fact it was our experience that COVID mandates were a central driver for voters in the election.

How does a recall effort in 2021 impact the 2022 midterms in California?

Brian: A number of factors will impact the 2022 midterms, including redistricting, national politics, COVID, the economy, etc. But the failure of the recall does not bode well for California Republicans. The California Republican Party is in disarray and will still need to find candidates to run in the 2022 statewide elections.

Ace: The issues around COVID that we surfaced during the recall election will remain a rallying point for Democrats in the midterms. Additionally, this off year election allowed Democrats to run an unprecedented field campaign which will pay political dividends for some time to come.

Recall Elections: Perspectives from California Professionals

This week, we reached out to California professionals Natalie Blanning Weber and Dave Gilliard of Gilliard Blanning & Associates and Joshua Spivak, Senior Fellow at the Hugh L. Carey Center for Government Reform and author of “Recall Elections: From Alexander Hamilton to Gavin Newsom” to discuss the intricacies and implications of recall elections and give us some insight into the current fight in California.
How does a recall election differ from the regular election cycle?
Natalie and Dave: First, it takes about 2 million total signatures on official petitions to force an election. Obtaining these signatures, especially during the COVID crisis, was an extraordinary challenge. We used Direct Mail and a massive volunteer force. Once the Recall Election qualifies, the timeframe quickens. Candidates have no time to build name ID and fundraising is a huge challenge.
Joshua: Recalls have a very compressed time frame, which makes it quite difficult for officials targeted. In some states, including California and Wisconsin, the campaign finance laws are very different than in other elections. Essentially, there are no limits on fundraising for the target (in California, it is treated as a ballot measure). The result is that the target (Newsom) can raise unlimited funds. Every recall target uses the argument that the recall is a waste of money and an abuse of the process. Sometimes this works, but most of the time, it does not — over the last 10 years, 60% of recall elections have resulted in removal and 6% have led to resignations.
What are the challenges associated with recall campaigns? How do you overcome these challenges?
Natalie and Dave: The YES side has one real advantage – it starts with a lead, in our case a lead of 2 million votes – those who signed the petition. For both sides, the calendar and fundraising are the two biggest challenges. There is little time to educate voters about the recall process, the timing, the importance of voting, etc.
Joshua: The big challenge is turnout. The recall proponents have a “movers’ advantage,” as they are already engaged and enraged. The targeted official must make sure their supporters get to the polls. Notably, in the three previous gubernatorial recall elections, turnout shot up from the last mid-term election.
What are your projections for the September 14th recall election in California?
Natalie and Dave: Question one will be very close. California is a deeply blue state, but with a large percentage of voters highly dissatisfied with the state of affairs – from crime, to homelessness to the cost of living. Californians are paying $5 a gallon for gas! With fires raging and water being cut-off to farms, voters are angry. Republicans are highly motivated to vote in the recall, and Gavin Newsom has a serious problem with his own base. Independents, a key group in California elections, are split evenly. A Republican will take question two.
Joshua: The polls have been moving in a favorable direction for Republicans and supporters of the recall. However, these polls seem to be focused on likely voters. It is not clear how well that screen works, especially with ballots already mailed to people’s homes. By virtue of being in California and the campaign finance rules, Newsom has some significant advantages. What is very different from the Gray Davis recall and the Gavin Newsom one is how much more “blue” California has become. In 2002, Gray Davis won election with 47%. Since you need 50% to survive the recall, Davis was already 3% underwater on day one. Newsom won with 62% of the vote. So he has a 12 point cushion, which is a great advantage.
How does a recall effort in 2021 impact the 2022 midterms in California?
Natalie and Dave: If Gavin Newsom is recalled it will send shockwaves across the nation, especially in progressive circles and, hopefully, rebalance things in California, where hope will be restored for Republicans.
Joshua: It is not clear at this time. It could be that if Gavin Newsom does well, the Republicans will not be able to get a high-quality candidate at the top of the ticket (or even get shut out of the top two race). The result could damage them down ballot. However, it is also likely that it has no impact whatsoever. In 2012, Scott Walker fended off a recall in June. It would be hard to claim that this race helped the Republicans in November, when Barack Obama won Wisconsin.