Main Street Strategic Advisory Group
AAPC caught up with new Individual Member, Steven Crim.
AAPC: Who do you look up to in the industry?
Steven: In 2009 I met Larry Hogan, and he shared with me a very exciting idea. He wanted to start an organization, Change Maryland, to rebut the failed policies in state government and one day, run for Governor. We immediately got to work.
We have worked together now for nearly a decade. While I have served as his top political advisor and strategist during this time, I have learned so much from him which has elevated my approach to campaigns and client work.
His discipline, work ethic, and ability to stay on message is unparalleled. But more importantly, his priority is with the people of Maryland and he understands the importance of remaining focused on the big things and not getting bogged down in the tiny unimportant details that prevent members of both political parties to work across the aisle and get things done for their constituents.
AAPC: What do you love about politics?
Steven: I don’t love politics. A recent poll found that 14% of Americans on the far-left and far-right dominate the political discourse, leaving the remaining 67% completely left out and without a home in American politics today. I find myself squarely within that 67% and it’s why I decided to take on the challenge of running an unaffiliated campaign for U.S. Senate.
The partisan rhetoric and dishonesty I see from both parties and news media disgusts me.
While I don’t like the current state of politics in our country, I do love working on and winning campaigns. The art and science of political campaigns have always been my passion. I love taking on a complex problem, finding the most efficient solution, and then executing on a strategy and tactics to accomplish a victory. I also love the challenge of overcoming the odds and winning despite the conventional wisdom and developing innovative strategies to help ‘underdog’ candidates win.
AAPC: What’s the best career advice you’ve ever received?
Steven: I have received so much great advice over the years it is difficult to narrow it to just one. But, the one piece of advice I do follow every day is to clearly define your goals and remain focused on the strategies that allows you to accomplish them.
For a political campaign, the goal is always to win the general election. I see so many campaigns engage in base politics to win their primaries but in the process completely destroy their chances at winning the general election. After working with hundreds of candidates over the last 26 years, rest assured that not a single candidate has merely dreamed of being the nominee. They dream of being the elected official – to win – that’s the goal.
AAPC: Where do you go when you need to be inspired?
Steven: My clients inspire me. They all have different sets of values that vary across the ideological spectrum, but they all have had four things in common: they are good people; feel like they will give voters a voice; put others ahead of their self-interests; and, more importantly, they have the courage to put themselves out there to serve the public.
Further, I am driven by the challenge of taking the complexity of the political race, the dynamics of the resources available, and combining those items into a victory – finding solutions inspires me. I have been fortunate to secure victories and take on rewarding challenges in politics over the course of my career, whether it is winning as a Republican in a Blue state or working my first unaffiliated race ever with U.S. Senate candidate Neal Simon in Maryland.
AAPC: Why did you join AAPC?
Steven: Iron sharpens iron and I am constantly trying to grow professionally. I look forward to networking, collaborating and learning with my colleagues at AAPC in this extremely complex political environment.
AAPC: How do you manage high-stress situations?
Steven: By their very nature, campaigns are a series of high-stress situations, escaping stress is not an option. I really just get up every morning and get to work. The key is to know what really matters and focus on that first. After managing campaigns for the better part of 20 years, there is little that I haven’t seen or experienced firsthand.
Growing up, my father was a pastor, and I am constantly going back to the Serenity prayer, “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, Courage to change the things I can, And wisdom to know the difference.”
My approach is to understand what we have control over, and what we do not. And, in both situations, be ready to act with the proper message and actions that best reflects the candidate’s values.
AAPC: Why is being part of a bipartisan organization valuable to you?
Steven: No party has a monopoly on good ideas, and in this time of hyper-partisanship there is so much value in partnering with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to collaborate on new ideas.
Today, I’m more focused than ever on working with candidates committed to making voters are the top priority in American politics – not the political parties – and working to ensure that the 67% of voters currently left out of the process find a home.
Providing a commonsense alternative to voters that speaks to their values was my mantra with Governor Hogan since we started working together in 2009, and this approach was validated with the win in 2014. I want to carry this same approach to other races around the country.