For the second time in just over a month, political consultants had a chance to take a bow as their work in the 2010 election cycle was recognized with a flurry of awards. In early February, C&E gave out the Reed Awards, and on Friday, March 11, the American Association of Political Consultants hosted its twentieth annual Pollies Awards ceremony.
AAPC Director Angela McMillen – Paul Morigi
Awards were given out in well over 200 categories, broken down into gold, silver, bronze, and honorable mentions. A new category this year was the “Tea-Pollies,” with awards given out to those both supporting and opposing the Tea Party movement.
The theme for the gathering was James Bond, and its motto was “Crack the Code of Today’s Politics.” A montage of footage from iconic 2010 political ads set to the 007 theme song and interspersed with clips from Bond movies was shown at the awards dinner. Among the ads featured were: the “Demon Sheep” Web video made by Fred Davis for Carly Fiorina in the California Republican Senate primary; the “Echo” ad made by Trippi & Associates for Jerry Brown in the California governor’s race; and Delaware Republican Senate candidate Christine O’Donnell’s “I’m not a witch” ad.
Among the most innovative award winners were pieces of talking direct mail, says AAPC Executive Director Angela McMillen. “We had talking Chinese direct mail,” says McMillen. “You opened it up and there was somebody talking to me in Chinese. That speaks to where our profession is going, which is targeting voters and interest groups to build coalitions of voters to get issues and candidates elected to office.” (Crystal Martin, whose firm MailPOW developed the chips that gave the mail the power of speech, won the Pollies rookie of the year award.)
The day before the awards ceremony, the AAPC inducted three luminaries of the campaign world into its hall of fame: Republican Ed Rollins and Democrats Morris Dees and Roger Craver. Rollins was recognized for, among other achievements, his four-decade-plus track record of running campaigns. He managed Reagan’s landslide 1984 reelection campaign as well as the campaign to unseat House Speaker Tom Foley in 1994. He has also played a managerial role in eight other presidential campaigns, most recently serving as national chairman for Mike Huckabee in 2008.
Dees was recognized for his role as a fundraising pioneer. As finance director of George McGovern’s 1972 presidential campaign, he raised $24 million ($125 million today) from 600,000 donors—the first time a presidential campaign had been fueled by small donors. He also served as finance director for Jimmy Carter’s 1976 presidential campaign and went on to reshape the nonprofit fundraising world and found the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Craver, a longtime collaborator of Dees, was recognized for helping to launch (or re-launch) a laundry list of the most important organizations in progressive politics, including Greenpeace, NARAL, and the ACLU. Along the way, he earned a place on Nixon’s enemies list and built the direct mail programs for the DNC, DSCC, and DCCC, though he eventually parted ways with each of them for various reasons.