Wes Anderson, Campaign Excellence Award winner (Pollster of the Year-Republican) for his work on Scott for Senate and Hawley for Senate, sat down with AAPC for an exclusive interview. Check it out below!
AAPC: What does being a 2019 AAPC Campaign Excellence Award winner mean to you?
Wes: It’s always great to be recognized by your peers.
AAPC: How did you get your start in politics/campaign industry?
Wes: As a teenager I became a Reaganite. Reagan was the first president I got to vote for and he inspired me to get involved in politics. I briefly thought about heading the policy rout, but it quickly became apparent to me that campaigns are a more nature fit.
AAPC: Who are your most significant mentors?
Wes: I’ve been blessed to have more than a few. At the top of any list of mentors in my life would be my dad. Speaking specifically of my profession, my brother, Curt Anderson, was an important mentor for me when I was younger. Others important to my career would be Jim and John McLaughlin and Tony Fabrizio.
AAPC: What’s the most positive development in political campaigns since you started your career?
Wes: The most positive is also the most negative – the speed of information flow.
AAPC: Tell us about something you’re most proud of accomplishing in your professional career.
Wes: Beating two incumbent Democrat senators in 2018, an otherwise difficult year, is currently at the top of that list.
AAPC: Voter turnout has trended downward over the past 40 years. Why do you think that is and what could be done about it?
Wes: This question probably deserves a whole book for an answer. My abridged version would be that continued hyper partisan polarization is driving down voter participation. But I think to simply blame the parties for this trend misses the point. The polarization isn’t really about the parties. It’s about our culture. Where that ends I don’t profess to know.
AAPC: What’s one piece of advice you have for consultants today?
Wes: Do all you can to avoid becoming cynical. Giving in to the “voters are stupid” mindset does you no good long term.
AAPC: Tell us a favorite campaign memory.
Wes: Election night in 2007 in Baton Rouge Louisiana. That’s the night my friend Bobby Jindal became Louisiana’s 55th Governor.
AAPC: If you have worked in both the political campaign and public affairs fields, tell us how are those two complementary, and how do you avoid conflicts?
Wes: Many of the principals that make up good political and public affairs campaigns are the same, but often there is a distinct difference in tone and tenor driven by the urgency and finality of political campaigns. If you can adapt to those differences you’ll be successful in both fields.
AAPC: If you didn’t do politics, what career path might you have chosen?
Wes: Probably a military career. I spent 10 years in Army Guard/Reserves. Briefly contemplated shifting gears and making the Army my career.
AAPC: What’s next for you this year?
Wes: I’ve got Tate Reeves for Governor in Mississippi and RGA work in Louisiana that will consume the rest of 2019.