Pro Politics with Zac McCrary

Pro Politics with Zac McCrary

Political pollster Zac McCrary interviews interesting people who work in and around the political industry. Guests come from a multitude of backgrounds and specialties within the political industry, and span the partisan spectrum. This is not a podcast for partisan squabbling or punditry about the latest issue in DC - it is hearing directly from successful people in the industry...their stories, experiences, and advice. This is a podcast for anyone who works in politics, hopes to work in politics, or wants to get up close to see how things really work in the world of professional politics.

Episodes

November 23, 2021 55 min

This week's episode is a compilation of some of my favorite campaign war stories and memorable moments from the first three months of episodes, covering March - May 2021. 

IN THIS EPISODE 

Paul Begala talks a key lesson he learned from the 1984 Texas Senate race…and the Democratic candidate the Clinton campaign believed posed the greatest threat to Clinton in the primaries.

Rebecca Pearcey, Political Director on the Warren 2020 pr...

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Ariel Edwards-Levy is CNN's Polling and Elections Analytics Editor, after covering the public opinion beat at Huffington Post for several cycles. In this episode she talks growing up in Southern California, the election that hooked her on politics at a young age, her early days in journalism, how she gravitated toward the polling beat, her transition from Huffington Post to CNN, and Ariel tackles many of the weighty questions c...

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Jeff Romig has been working in the trenches of politics for well over a decade. Inspired to work in campaigns by Congressman John Lewis, he's worked in all phases of campaigns to win tough races at the state and local level - and he's deeply experienced running non-profits as well. But the time is right now to talk to Jeff, as he's just released a memoir about living for 25 years in the shadow of his father's suicid...

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Over the course of 2017, Doug Jones went from a respected Alabama attorney and empty nester to one of the most well-known US Senators in the country. In this conversation, we talk growing up in the shadow of segregation and George Wallace, starting to see those walls come down as he’s in high school, learning under his mentor Senator Howell Heflin, his time as US Attorney seeking justice against the Klan for the 1963 bombing of a B...

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Who else has a story like Chuck Robb? Marries the President Johnson's daughter in a White House ceremony, serves in Vietnam, changes the political culture of Virginia in the 70s and 80s, two consequential terms in the Senate, helps found the influential centrist DLC, and casts several courageous, unpopular votes that ultimately take a toll on his career in elected office. This is a frank, revealing conversation though Governor ...

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 There aren't many stories like Stefan's Smith in politics...growing up with a single mom in public housing in South Carolina...and from a gig worker to the upper echelons of presidential campaigns and iconic progressive organizations in four years. Stefan flirted with both a career in academia and the entertainment industry before finding his calling in digital politics. In this conversation, he talks his unusual path to p...

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Ileana Ros-Lehtinen has a truly American story: born in Cuba, emigrates to Miami with her family at age 8, works as a teacher before being elected to the Florida legislature - and then makes history as the first Hispanic woman in American history to be elected to Congress. This is a great conversation about her one-of-a-kind life, history-making career, great political stories, and advice & insight to candidates, elected offici...

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October 5, 2021 48 min

Ed Peavy founded Democratic direct mail firm Mission Control and is rightfully known as one of the good people in the business. In this conversation, Ed talks why after working a few weeks on the Hill he knew it wasn't right for him, his early campaign days including on the legendary Harris Wofford Senate race in Pennsylvania, and then starting a small direct mail firm that has become one of the most successful in politics. Gre...

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Dr. Michael D. Cohen studied under iconic pollster Bill Hamilton as a student, worked in the trenches in Republican campaigns, spent time at Gallup, apprenticed under iconic GOP pollster Tony Fabrizio (most known recently as Donald Trump's pollster) and worked with famed Dem strategist Mark Penn when Michael was an in-house pollster at Microsoft. Along the way, Michael started his own firm (Cohen Research Group), built the boom...

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Mindy Myers has a knack for being where political history happens and, more importantly, has run and won tough Senate races. She managed Sheldon Whitehouse in 2006 over Linc Chafee and ran Elizabeth Warren's first political race in 2012...then was the first ever woman to serve as E.D of the DSCC. Now she's started MZL Media to put into practice what she's learned winning tough races. And even as a young operative, Mindy...

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September 14, 2021 53 min

Not many people have a story in politics like Raghu Devaguptapu...son of Indian immigrants, making the jump from touring with a band to working in politics, working at the upper echelons of both state and national politics, and then co-founding his own media firm. This is a great conversation talking through Raghu's early life, key moments in his career, and insight and advice from a one-of-a-kind career in politics. 

IN THIS EP...

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September 7, 2021 50 min

Jim Duffy is one of the Godfathers of Democratic media consultants. He joined with Raymond Strother in the mid 80s to form Strother Duffy - one of the elite Dem firms of the era. Jim cut his teeth working in New Orleans politics - for names like Moon Landrieu and Lindy Boggs, before making the move to DC as an ad-maker. As a media consultant, Jim has helped elect numerous Senators, Governors, and members of Congress - and in this c...

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Ellen Malcolm helped found EMILY's List in 1985 and then served as EL’s President for 25 years. It’s hard to think of an organization over the last 30+ years that has changed politics more than EMILY's List, dramatically increasing the number of Democratic women in the both the Senate and the House. In this conversation, Ellen talks about how her early stops at places like Common Cause and the National Women’s Political...

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Ben Nelson has lived an iconic political life...two terms as Governor and two terms in the Senate as a Democrat in deep red Nebraska - and the key swing vote on landmark legislation from the Bush tax cuts to judicial votes to Obamacare. In this conversation, he talks his political career - beginning with his first Governor's race (starting at 0% and winning by 42 votes). And he goes into depth about his time in the Senate - wei...

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Jessica Taylor is the Senate Editor for the Cook Political Report with Amy Walter and recently made history as the first woman to be a Senior Author for the Almanac of American Politics. Jessica talks her small-town Tennessee roots, her path to political journalism, her early thoughts on the 2022 Senate map, and a deep-dive into both the history of The Almanac and her ground-breaking role at that hallowed institution.

IN THIS EPISOD...

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You know Edward-Isaac Dovere from his work at The Atlantic, and Politico before that. His recent book Battle for the Soul chronicles the 2020 presidential campaign, especially the Democratic primaries. In this conversation, we discuss Isaac's path to writing about politics, the genesis of his book, and several of the key moments from the 2020 campaign trail.

IN THIS EPISODE

The member of Congress who helped Isaac first get involv...

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Chuck Rocha, Democratic operative and founder of Solidarity Strategies, may have the most interesting and unusual story of ascent in politics. From a 19-year old single father working a union job at a rubber plant in East Texas, to the political director of the national Steelworkers' Union, to a senior advisor to both Bernie Sanders' campaigns, and founder of the largest Latino-owned political consulting firm. Chuck's s...

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No operative is more identified with their state's politics than Steve Schale is with Florida. Steve cut his teeth winning tough legislative districts in Florida as the state drifted red, then ran Florida for the winning Obama campaign in 2008 and was deeply involved again in Obama 2012.  And beyond Florida, Steve helmed the Draft Biden 2016 effort and the 2020 Biden Super PAC Unite the Country. This is a great conversation not...

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Maren Hesla has done virtually everything there is to do in Democratic politics. She’s currently a partner in leading Democratic direct mail firm Mission Control…but before that she managed campaigns, worked for the DNC, DCCC, and EMILYs List, and spent time as a media consultant and pollster. Maren talks her personal journey as a Minnesota transplant growing up in the Deep South and what she’s learned navigating the political prof...

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July 13, 2021 57 min

Other than those who've been elected President, I'm not sure anyone in his generation has had a more remarkable political career than Haley Barbour. Running Mississippi for Nixon while he was still in college...ED of the MS GOP at a critical building phase in the 70s...battling a Senate Giant in his unsuccessful first race in '82...running the Reagan White House's political operation...chairing the RNC during the &#...

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