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

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. 

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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.

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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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July 6, 2021 59 min

From a very early age, Jim Messina knew he wanted to manage a presidential campaign. And he made it happen as the manager for the 2012 Obama re-elect. In between, Jim ran campaigns at all levels across the country, served as Chief of Staff on Capitol Hill, and served as a White House aide helping pass much of the first-term Obama agenda. In this conversation, Jim talks growing up in a blue collar Mountain West family, his early act...

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Nse Ufot is CEO of The New Georgia Project, an integral part of the infrastructure that contributed to Georgia turning blue for Joe Biden and delivering two US Senate seats as part of a Democratic majority. Under her leadership, NGP has trained local activists,  built innovative organizing apps, and helped register over 400,000 voters. In this conversation, Nse talks her childhood move from Nigeria to Atlanta, her early days as a l...

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Journalist and author Sasha Issenberg recently released his new book, The Engagement: America's Quarter-Century Struggle Over Same-Sex Marriage. Sasha chronicles the path to progress on this issue from the early 90s when even most LGBT advocates didn't see marriage equality as an achievable goal..to the present with marriage equality cemented by the Supreme Court and over 70% of Americans (and rising) lining up behind these...

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Miles Coleman is an analyst at the University of Virginia's Center for Politics, though he is best known as the unofficial President of "Election Twitter" - a loose affiliation of (mostly) amateur political junkies and pundits who drive much of the political chatter and  analysis on social media. Miles also has helped popularize political cartography, with some of his self-made political maps revealing important insight...

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Those in the political world know Jason Stanford as the founder of the opposition research firm Stanford Campaigns - which is still going strong after 20+ years. He's also a prolific writer, with a new book out. Forget the Alamo chronicles the history of the Alamo, starting before the first shot was fired to the present day as the Alamo continues to roil Texas politics. In this discussion, Jason talks about his early days i...

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James Aldrete comes out of a family political tradition with one foot in the world of radical Tejano politics of the 50s and 60s - and one foot in the  Democratic establishment. As a political professional, he's merged those strands to start his own firm (MAP) based in Austin, TX and become a leading voice within the Democratic party on communications and messaging, with a focus on Hispanic engagement and media. In this convers...

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Enjoy a short bonus episode with the iconic (and iconoclastic) Kinky Friedman...country music legend, best-selling novelist, and sometimes political candidate. Kinky talks through some of his political heroes, his favorite political stories, his time in the Peace Corps, his friendship with both Bill Clinton and George W Bush.,.& and closes the episode with one of his songs - that was a favorite of Nelson Mandela.

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Becki Donatelli is a legendary GOP strategist and a trailblazing digital consultant. She got her start as a Goldwater Girl, worked for Reagan in '76, knew Jim Baker and Ronald Reagan, and worked with John McCain in 2000 & 2008. As a digital pioneer, Beck was part of the first operation to raise political money on the internet. And her firm, Campaign Solutions, has been leading in the digital space for 20+ years in presi...

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Very few people have had more impact on US House races over the past decade than Ali Lapp. After years in campaigns and as a Hill Chief of Staff, she created House Majority PAC from scratch in 2011. With Ali at the helm, HMP has established itself as a vital presence on the political landscape - raising and spending hundreds of millions of dollars to elect Democrats to the House. In this episode, Ali talks her early days in politic...

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Faiz Shakir, manager of the 2020 Bernie Sanders' campaign, has worked from the inside (Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid) and the outside (Bernie, the ACLU) to advance the causes in which he believes. Faiz has one of the most versatile and unique resumes in politics. But beyond his professional experience, he has a uniquely American story as a Muslim-American child of Pakistani immigrants who spent his childhood bouncing across Florida ...

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