“Since my time at LI, I have had jobs working for congressional candidates, and I have run successful campaigns for both delegates to the Republican National Convention and to local town councils,” Dale Kerns said. “LI taught me at the Campaign Management School how to correctly manage a campaign through the nuts and bolts! We were taught everything in one week that it takes most people a lifetime to learn."
"I ran for the United States Senate in 2010, and I’m proud to represent Kentucky there today," Rand Paul said.
"The political elites in both parties opposed me, and the 'experts' didn’t give me much of a chance. But let me tell you about a 'secret weapon' I had... that 'secret weapon' is top notch volunteers and staff members trained by a remarkable group called the Leadership Institute."
Kate Miller—a cheery-about-life, red-headed recent college graduate from Washington state—was an intern at the Leadership Institute a little more than two months ago. And, today marks her first day as a fulltime employee doing what she loves most: design! She is the associate designer at VOX Global, a public affairs and strategic communications DC firm. “I could not be where I am now had I not been at the Leadership Institute,” Kate said. “LI was pivotal to my DC experience being so successful and joyful.”
As a “newcomer” to politics, Leadership Institute graduate Bill Wright won a board member seat in his life-long hometown of Vermilion County, Illinois by 55 votes! “The race was a 'vote for three' type arrangement and there were four of us running for the three open positions. I was running against three incumbents, all from the opposite party, who ran as a team,” Bill continued. “Some say I am the first of my party to win a seat in this district in 50-plus years."
The Second Amendment--“A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed” – has been under great scrutiny the past few weeks.
Since Sarah Morrison's May 2012 graduation from Northern Michigan University, she has been busy. She’s been a summer camp head lifeguard, a fall 2012 field representative for the Leadership Institute, and since January, she’s been the special assistant to the National Rifle Association (NRA) President David Keene.
“The NRA is playing a large role in the public policy debate over the 23 new executive orders, along with Sen. Feinstein's new gun ban,” Sarah said.
Sarah helps the NRA president with his many scheduling requests and briefs him on particular issues. Additionally, her responsibilities include processing mail, fielding emails, and filing expense reports.
Fred Cooper and his political accounts division at The RainMakers Organization raised $5 million in 2012 for political organizations and candidates. He worked for: Rep. Michele Bachmann (MN-6); Rep. Steve King (IA-4) as his DC PAC director; and for Indiana Treasurer Richard Mourdock, candidate for the U.S. Senate, as the campaign's national finance director. Fred first learned of LI through the field rep working at his college. After taking LI's Student Publications Workshop in college, Fred accepted a position as an LI field rep after graduation. Later, Fred managed a local judicial race and then worked the Ohio victory office for presidential candidate John McCain.
Sunday America swore in her 44th president for a second term. Twenty-eight years ago—in 1985—America bestowed a second term to the 40th President Ronald Reagan. His personal assistant Peggy Grande, a Leadership Institute graduate and volunteer faculty member, worked a decade for the former president who was loved dearly by many conservatives.
“From the time I was young my dad always said, ‘Someone has to have that job you want – and it might as well be you!’ How right he was,” Peggy shared with me. “I never could have predicted that a small town girl like me who dreamed of going to DC but stayed in southern California and studied communications and business, not politics or government, would wind up sitting at the feet of greatness! Likewise, only in America can a young boy named Ronald Reagan, from a poor family with an alcoholic father, raised in the Midwest grow up to be president and not only lead our nation, but become the leader of the free world.”
If you’ve met Leadership Institute graduate Lynda Fairman you have been graced with a gentle powerhouse of knowledge and dedication. The blonde-headed, bouncy-curled, and smile-beaming woman works with a tenacity second to none.
It’s no wonder she was selected as the Republican Party of Virginia’s ‘Volunteer of the Year.’
“This award is quite an honor, especially since so many volunteers throughout Virginia dedicated hundreds of hours to our candidates in the critical 2012 election,” Lynda told me. “This award is less of a reflection of what I did, and more on what all of the volunteers in York County did through our 2012 Campaign Plan and Campaign Victory Headquarters.”
Lynda is serving a two-year term as chairman of the York County Republican Committee in Virginia, where her focus has been on developing the headquarters building and operations manual as well as putting together the campaign plan.
“When I ran for county chairman in March 2012, my focus was three-fold: learn to win (through education/training); plan to win (set plans with goals); and work to win (provide areas for citizens to put boots on the ground for our candidates),” Lynda said.
“When we were able to secure a headquarters for the 2012 election, I was able to use many of the lessons learned from my Leadership Institute training,” Lynda said. “I still remember LI President Morton Blackwell’s session on making sure your volunteers were comfortable in clean surroundings and made to feel welcome. As every candidate and state official visited our headquarters, the common comment was, ‘This is the nicest headquarters in the entire state!’ My focus is on doing the needed jobs the best we can, on a budget, and with style. The number of general citizens who stopped by just to get yard signs and then stayed to volunteer and help phone bank, man the headquarters, and door knock was proof that we’re on the right track. ”
Leadership Institute graduate and former intern Chris Perkins was recently named the top Texas pollster by Capitol Inside’s bi-partisan “Political Consultants Power Rankings.”
Maybe you’ve heard of some his clients: Texas Rep. Doc Anderson, Texas Rep. Greg Bonnen, Texas Senator Donna Campbell, Texas Rep. Stefani Carter, Texas Railroad Commissioner Christi Craddick, U.S. Senator Ted Cruz, Texas Rep. Tony Dale, Texas Senator Kelly Hancock, Texas Rep. Charles Perry, Texas Senator Larry Taylor, Texas Rep. James White as well as Texans for Lawsuit Reform, Texas Republican Representatives Campaign Committee, and Conservative Republicans of Texas, just to name a few.
Helping Ted Cruz win and head into the U.S. Senate this month was one of Chris’ professional highlights.
“Ted Cruz’s win was huge—for many reasons,” Chris told me. “It was great to be involved with such a great man—Mr. Cruz—knowing his heart is in the right place and knowing he’ll do great things for conservatives in the U.S. Senate.”
“The first poll I did for Cruz was in July 2011 and had him at 2 percent (with only a quarter of likely Texas voters that had ever heard him) - and the margin of error was 3 percent. So it was a tall order and a full team effort taking him from 2 percent in the polls into the United States Senate,” Chris said. “For me personally, it validates our firm’s polling accuracy – which is the best in the country – and validates the methodological tools we provide to campaigns that show how voters move behind certain messages, how they gravitate toward candidates based on what type of information that they are receiving, and what issues we are attacked on that we leave alone.”
Winning a U.S. senate seat is no small feat. It takes integrating thoughtful strategy with hard work months before Election Day.
Leadership Institute graduate Sam Stone has volunteered and worked on campaigns since he was 17 years old, and he’s not stopping now. Sam works as the Arizona state director for FreedomWorks, an organization that recruits, educates, trains, and mobilizes millions of volunteer activists to fight for less government, lower taxes, and more freedom.
“FreedomWorks for America ran a statewide grassroots campaign in support of Jeff Flake for Senate. We set goals to make over 100,000 phone calls, knock on 200,000 doors, and distribute 15,000 signs,” Sam said. “It's not glamorous stuff. It just wins races. Every day, we organized teams of volunteers to go out there in the Arizona sun and grind out the win.”
And “grind out the win” they did.
Republican Jeff Flake, having served in the lower chamber of Congress since 2001, will now return to Washington, D.C., but this time as a senator from Arizona.
When former Arizona Senator Jon Kyl retired, two candidates emerged to fill the vacancy: Jeff Flake and former Surgeon General Richard Carmona, who campaigned as an Independent. Flake brought home the victory in November with 49.7 percent of the vote, while Carmona carried 45.8 percent.
“Jeff Flake can save America. No, seriously,” Sam shared with the Leadership Institute. “Other than perhaps Paul Ryan, there is no greater advocate for limited government, fiscal sanity, and reduced spending than Jeff Flake. He led the fight against earmarks. He's one of the few congressmen who understand the risks of our ballooning national deficit. Ten years ago, Greece was in a very similar economic position to where we are today. Jeff Flake is exactly the kind of man we need in the Senate to change that trajectory.”