GAME CHANGERS | 10 General Election Indispensables
The 2016 elections allowed many up and coming – and already established politicos – to stretch their wings in unprecedented ways and truly show what kind of operative they are. Below, find 10 who made an inarguable impact on this year’s election results.
Yet another successful member of the state’s House Republican Campaign Committee, Asher Allman has left his mark on the state following Tuesday’s election. The Southwest Regional Director at Missouri HRCC is all about serving, whether it be as a Boy Scout in his younger days, National Honor Society and Fellowship Christian Athletes in high school, or his involvement at Missouri State University. Allman says his sense of patriotism is what gives him the drive to compete in the political realm, and working with the Republicans was the right fit. A record night for the Republican House in Missouri was exactly what he and all of the Republicans were working for, and now, he’s going to the next level. Allman will be heading to Congressman Billy Long’s office in Washington D.C. He says that, knowing what he does now, he would do all of it again.
Aaron Baker has worked on several campaigns and policies, dating back to the early 2000’s. He cut his teeth working as Bill Stouffer’s chief of staff for eight years, working under Jewell Patek, David Barklage and Jeff Roe all at the same time, an experience he can only describe as brutal. Baker now serves as the Director of Corporate Affairs at Axiom Strategies, who helped manage several successful campaigns in 2016, including those of Sam Graves, Ryan Silvey, Bill Eigel and Denny Hoskins. Baker also quarterbacked the Axiom team that was a key driving force behind Amendment 3’s opposition. Even though they were outspent 2:1 and trailed the Amendment 3 supporters by more than 10 points in October, they pulled off the upset with a resounding 59-41 victory.
Perhaps one of the biggest winners in the election cycle was the Remington Research Group. Titus Bond, the Director of Polling for Remington, says that many people would think that correctly predicting the winner of the presidential race when no other pollsters did would be the best moment of this election. The firm’s polling played a large part in several campaigns, even rescuing one incumbent from losing the race by resting on their laurels too early. Bond says that while there are issues with polling, he loves the challenge of staying ahead of the curve. Bond credits his mother for his interest in politics. “I vividly remember going with her as a child to knock doors for George H W Bush in 1992. I caught the bug then and it has never left.”
Casey Burns’ first year as the political director at the House Republican Campaign Committee (HRCC) is going to be one she never forgets. Burns, a former HRCC field staffer and legislator assistant, started with the organization on February 1st. 10 months later, and the House Republicans have not only retained their super majority; they’ve strengthened their chances of making changes to the state by increasing the Republican hold on elected offices across the state. Burns’ role in making it all happen was a major key to Republican success: the political director’s role traditionally assists the executive director in strategic planning and organizing, but more importantly, aid in recruitment, training and equipping for the campaigns. Burns says the competitive nature of campaigns and the dedication of the field staff and regional directors make her role very fulfilling.
A longtime journalist, Scott Charton is no stranger to politics and government. But after work for the Associated Press and serving as the University of Missouri System’s spokesman, Charton began his own communications firm in 2008, based in Mid-Missouri. Since then, Charton Communications & Consulting has excelled in its work on statewide ballot issue campaigns, with two major victories in the 2016 election: a 14 point win for Amendment 4 and crushing defeat for Amendment 3. Charton says the best moment of the 2016 campaign was gaining the public endorsement of Amendment 4 by the Missouri Press Association and the Missouri Broadcasters Association, two groups that never take public stands on ballot issues. Charton prefers to work on ballot measures rather than candidates, saying “they don’t argue, they don’t get arrested and they don’t get into stupid scandals.”
Jeff Layman has been working in republican politics for more than two decades, but in 2015, he was on the verge of finally calling it quits. He had decided that he was done being involved, and it was time to hang it all up. But one week later, he received a call from Eric Greitens. Layman had never met Greitens before, but a friend had approached him back in 2014, encouraging Layman to give Greitens a look-over. After meeting with Greitens, Layman says he quickly realized the potential of the future Governor-Elect. Layman says he felt he had found the right guy, and signed on to work with the campaign. He became Greitens’ financial officer, spearheading an incredibly successful campaign and launching Greitens into his new role as Missouri’s next governor.
Jonathon Prouty likes to joke that he works in politics simply because he doesn’t have any other marketable skills. Anyone who knows him or has seen his work knows that isn’t the case. The Executive Director of the Missouri GOP, Prouty joined the MOGOP after John Hancock ran for Chairman. He says that at the time, the party was broken, demoralized and divided. “Over the past two years, we have rebuilt the party into a respected organization once again and unified the State Committee behind a singular purpose: supporting and electing Republican candidates up and down the ballot.” Prouty says. And it worked; Prouty and the Republicans secured the biggest triumph in the Missouri Republican Party’s modern history on election night: a clean sweep of the statewide races, control of the Missouri Senate, and another super majority in the Missouri House.
Nobody likes to lose, but even a loss can still come with some sort of victory. Abe Rakov’s work as Jason Kander’s campaign manager is a perfect example. Not only did he and Kander lead one of the strongest campaigns in the nation, they managed to truly challenge Sen. Roy Blunt. People who have worked alongside Abe say he’s rock solid, and that he never loses focus. His work is aggressive, which was what the race for the Missouri Senate seat requires. Where he’ll wind up next, nobody seems to know, but with the Kander campaign on his resume, and the hard fought battle past, it seems certain that he will land on his feet, ready to swing away at his next endeavor.
Growing up, Jonathan Ratliff wanted to be a rockstar. Though his talents never landed him on center stage, the lifelong Republican has definitely become a superstar among the Missouri GOP. His first job in politics was on Romney’s first presidential race, after which he helped Kurt Schaefer win his first Senate race, as well as Blaine Luetkemeyer land his victory for a seat in the U.S. Congress. As the former political director of the Missouri House Republican Campaign Committee, he helped grow the Republican majority from 89 to 118 seats. Ratliff now serves as a partner at Palm Strategic, and says he continues working on campaigns for two reasons: to make a positive impact on his state and community, and to win.
David Turner was practically born into politics. He grew up in a politically-minded household, and says that his dad named all of his stuffed animals after political figures, holding debates over his crib. Before landing in Missouri, Turner worked on Obama for America and served as press secretary for Mark Warner’s U.S. Senate campaign in Virginia. Turner was hired in 2015 by the Missouri Democratic Party to manage its communications for the governor’s race. During his time as the Koster for Missouri communications director, Turner implemented a number of strong strategies, while displaying a quick wit and a sharp tongue. Turner says he is very selective about the candidates he works for, saying they must share his goal: to help make society better for everyone and to do the most good for the most people.