Funniest thing about coming into the campaign that day – was noticing how small the space actually was – and how little space we had. Aside from the players already mentioned, I should introduce a couple of other folks who added color to the campaign in my first days. It should be clear that when I came into the campaign, I had absolutely no campaign experience whatsoever, let alone Presidential experience…
Aaron Rosenthal, Database Administrator – one of the funniest guys on our floor, Aaron ran our installation of NGP – which is the software database solution that the campaign used to manage the financial and compliance efforts and our membership database (which we affectionately called KerryBase or K-Base). Aaron had performed similar work with another campaign in the past — and joined the campaign in this capacity. One unique characteristic he had was a pet gecko (of which I forget its name), which unfortunately passed away sometime into the Primary season — handling such adversity and challenges that no normal gecko should ever be subjected to.
Jessica MacLeman, Dewey Square and Internet Team Member – from what I remembered of Jessica in those first few days was she was a recent graduate and had joined Dewey Square (the consulting firm) as an intern and became a team member of the Internet Team almost inadvertantly. She was to be responsible for state efforts — and became the main go-to person for various state page modifications and voter database solutions during the primary season.
Chad Lennox, Volunteer Coordinator – Chad was one of the “older” people in the basement – tirelessly managing the scores of volunteers that were there in the summer months, scrounding for volunteers and interns during the dry season (Sep-Dec), and then having to manage a tidal wave of supporters as JK began to surge in the polls in the month of January and after the Iowa win. Chad always had a smile for the many volunteers that joined the campaign – and his hard work earned him a promotion into the Political Desk as the primary season came to an end.
Aaron Rudenstine, Grassroots Fundraising – Aaron had a typical path to the campaign – was offered a role via one person, that person left the campaign, found himself looking for work, his skill and ability landed him with another group, he worked like the dickens, and then would find himself moving up the ladder a number of times – including becoming Mary Beth Cahill’s assistant for a time, then working Political as well. When we first met, Aaron was ready to take on the world and build up our Internet fundraising effort – and he tirelessly made telephone calls to our sparce number of donors in the cold winter months, worked the data, and became all-around data guy on the success of our online fundraising in those early months.
Richard Rho, Bulk Email “Commander” – Richard had graduated from Duke University with a law degree – and wanted to practice law in DC. He joined the Kerry Campaign in the Finance Department, working on compliance (to make sure all of the Federal Election Commissions rules for fundraising were kept up). At the time, our inbound email was beginning to get out of control, and we needed more staff to help us with the effort. Richard was one of the people that Matt Butler “highly recommended” – and he joined our customer service group. Around the same time, our outbound email efforts were just beginning to ramp up and we needed someone dedicated to composing and delivering our emails. This person had to have HTML skills, a eye for detail, and an easy going personality. Richard was overhearing our conversations and came over to me and said, “Hey – I can do HTML. I use to do a little bit of programming.” Two days later, Richard was driving our bulk email systems – and eventually went on to lead a team of publishers during the General campaign, handling all of the outbound emails for the entire nation.
Eric Wilfong, National Database Director – Later in the campaign, when we got short handed, we interviewed Eric (vitually) right out of school, on the recommendation from the owner of NGP, on the assumption that the installation would grow beyond simple usage of the web solution. Eric came on the campaign with energy and enthusiasm – and I do not think he ever expected what became his role on the campaign – an almost daily grind of managing the NGP installation, database requests from all parts of the nation, database integration issues, reports on various fundraising and campaign minutia, problems it had with other applications – all the kinds of things a true enterprise would hire an army of DBs and developers to manage. Eric kept his head about him and handled it with aplumb – and slowly began to crawl out of the insanity that was the database of the Kerry Campaign. Later on, he was able to get more support for his team’s efforts – and today shows a maturity and breath that few people can compare with (save sites like Amazon or eBay or Yahoo!).
There are a number of other people from the early days of the Internet team to describe – including Nick Grouf and Dave Waxman, who came aboard to provide guidance and internal political management on behalf of the Internet team, and volunteers JR Boynton and Brian Villalunga who worked tirelessly for the relaunch of the new Kerry website in November 2003, and Daniel and Mike – two other compliance guys who became part of our first Customer Service team.
What became a mighty force in the campaign – the Internet team – started out with extremely humble beginnings. While the Dean Campaign got a lot of visibility for what it accomplished, the Kerry team did a tremendous amount with what little they had.
What a team they made – and then became.