Malchow, Schlackman, Hoppey and Cooper, known as MSHC Partners, a leadingDemocratic direct mail and communications strategy firm based in Washington, D.C., has announced plans to disband and suspend operations.
MSHC Partners was founded in 1989 by Hal Malchow, Rich Schlackman, Trish Hoppey and Jim Crounse. Over the past two decades, the firm claims to have helped elect 16 governors (including Jennifer Granholm in Michigan and Tim Kaine in Virginia), 16 U.S. Senators (including Mark Warner in Virginia and Al Franken in Minnesota) and more than 50 members of the U.S. House. It has also worked on behalf of numerous unions andpolitical organizations, including the AFL-CIO, the Democratic National Committee, EMILY’s List and SEIU.
On its website, MSHC Partners claims to have “the best winning percentage of any Democratic mail firm in America, winning 13 of our last 17 major statewide races.” The firm also boasts over 150 Pollie awards—“more creative awards from the American Association of Political Consultants than any other firm”—and credits itself for having “brought microtargeting to American politics.” MSHC Partners received the Reed award for “best online fundraising campaign” from C&E in 2010 for its Joe “the heckler” campaign in support of Rob Miller’s U.S. House run in South Carolina’s 2nd district.
“Politics is not what it was when I started 25 years ago,” noted founding partner Hal Malchow in an email announcement to clients and friends in the political community. “Advertising has become not just more negative but more vicious and personal.
The campaign dialogue has become increasingly disconnected from the real problems people face. Frankly, what we say in our ads has often become more distant from the truth. I don’t say all this to criticize anyone. I am glad that talented people will still man the barricades. I just no longer want to do this work.”
Malchow, who The New Republic has called the “mad scientist of American politics,” went on to note that he has no plans to retire but rather plans to focus on other projects. These include book writing and developing new approaches to political cartooning. In spring 2011, BenBella Books will publish a fantasy novel that Malchow wrote with his son when the latter was eight years old. Malchow, who indicated that he will continue towork part-time with select clients that “he admires,” also hopes to coach a youth football team.
Firm partners Trish Hoppey and Dean Levitan plan to launch their own enterprise focusing on direct mail. Amy Gonzalez, president of MSHC Partners, will start a new firm focusing on online strategies and Internet services.
Mark Ruggiero is a freelance writer who resides in New York.