The Political Consultant Class

Ever since Jason Rae announced his run for DPW Chair, Nation Consulting, the firm Rae works for, has come under fire from a variety of bloggers, Facebookers, and other social media mavens disgusted with what is viewed as extremely poor messaging on the part of Democratic candidates. And while the relationship between Nation Consulting, the DPW, and the candidates they field isn’t clear, if, in fact, there is any at all, what is clear is that the messaging coming out of the mouths of recent Dem candidates isn’t working. So what exactly do these consultant types do and where do they get their ideas?

Nation Consulting writes that one of their strengths is crafting effective messaging and helping organizations and businesses ( and, presumably, political candidates ) tell their story. What does it mean to tell one’s story?

In Jason Rae’s case I think one can conclude that telling his story includes the bit about how he rode his bike to county party meetings before he could even vote. This snippet has appeared in both his formal letter of intent to run and his answers to Blogging Blue readers ten questions. Is this what telling one’s story means? Does anyone really give a good goddamn about how Mr. Rae got to county party meetings? Is he a better candidate because he rode his bike? Are other candidates the lesser for driving their cars, or do they get points if they carpooled?

A suspiciously similar snippet was repeated frequently by Mary Burke on the campaign trail, though I have no idea if Nation Consulting had anything to do with her campaign. Perhaps they’re all working from the same textbook? How many times did we hear Burke say that she still lived in the same house that her grandfather delivered mail to. Outstanding! Of course you should be Governor if you still live in the same house your Grandfather delivered mail to. That’s exactly what the people of Wisconsin have been demanding for years!

Here’s what Id’ like to know: who does the DPW, or the ADCC, or the SSDC consult with to develop messaging for Democratic candidates in Wisconsin? How much are these firms paid? What’s their won/loss record? And lastly, do these folks ever look at the DPW platform and resolutions for guidance? I suspect I’m not the only person out there who’d like some answers.


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4 thoughts on “The Political Consultant Class

  1. Nation Consulting is a Milwaukee-based firm run by Thad Nation, whom if memory serves was a high-level staffer in Gov. Doyle’s office. The firm’s clients include Wisconsin Energy Corporation, Michels Corporation, H.J. Martin and Pabst Farms (the big development in Oconomowoc that’s turning some of the state’s finest farmland into a supersized subdivision with sprawling shopping malls and its own I-94 exit ramp). But the most problematic of all the firm’s clients is, in my book, Wired Wisconsin, an astro-turf outfit that sounds consumerist but in reality represents the media control-freak, deregulatory-minded interests of AT&T and other voraciously profit-seeking broadband firms.

    In short, Nation Consulting might be regarded as representing the corporate-centric instinct within the “third way” sector of “New” Democratic politics, which is to say: not particularly progressive, populist or grass roots, except when trying to drum up votes; oriented way too much toward the party’s larger business patrons rather than rank and file voters and workers.

  2. PS. To be perfectly accurate, I should have said that Wired Wisconsin was one of Nation Consulting’s front organizations for a group of broadband clients including AT&T. Nation Consulting has been instrumental in furthering broadband deregulatory efforts in Wisconsin and Illinois, and seeking to prevent municipal broadband entities where private providers charge too much and offer too little.

  3. Telling a story is somewhat important for anyone running for most anything, but I agree with the general sentiment that anyone connected with the Democratic Party’s failed messaging may not be a great choice for DPW chair right now.

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