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The Media Barons: Top Political Admakers

Sunday, April 30, 2000


Struble, Oppel

Karl Struble
Thomas Oppel

Present and Past Clients
Maria Cantwell for Senate (Wash.)
Baron Hill for Congress (Ind.)
Sander M. Levin for Congress (Mich.)
Sen. Ernest F. Hollings (S.C.)
Sen. Thomas A. Daschle (S.D.)
Sen. Bob Kerrey (Neb.)

Who They Are
The favored media consultant to Senate Minority Leader Thomas A. Daschle, Struble has a roster of Senate incumbent clients that is currently the longest of any Democratic consultant. With the House a more competitive electoral battleground than the Senate this year, Struble says the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) has asked him to take on several high-priority races too.

Shrum, Devine, & Donilon

Robert Shrum
Tad Devine
Michael Donilon

Present and Past Clients
Al Gore for president
Ron Klink for Senate (Pa.)
Bill Nelson for Senate (Fla.)
Sen. John Edwards (N.C.)
Al Checchi for governor (Calif.)
Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (Mass.)

Who They Are
A wordsmith best known for polishing everything from State of the Union addresses for President Clinton to Kennedy family speeches, Shrum is a leading member of Vice President Gore's media team. Shrum's partnership with Carter-era pollster Pat Caddell broke up with an acrimonious lawsuit in the 1980s; later he broke with partner David Doak. Today his firm also does corporate work. When Pizza Hut found itself under attack from rival chain Papa John's, Shrum responded with negative ads.

Squier, Knapp, Dunn

William N. Knapp
Anita Dunn

Present and Past Clients
Al Gore for president
Sen. Bob Graham (Fla.)
Sen. John Breaux (La.)
Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (N.Y.)

Who They Are
For years the leading Democratic firm. Before his death earlier this year, founder Bob Squier had been replaced on Gore's team by his former partner and bitter rival, Carter Eskew. Knapp has continued to work for Gore. Partner Anita Dunn served as communications director for Democrat Bill Bradley's losing presidential campaign.

Doak, Carrier, O'Donnell & Assoc.

David Doak
Michele Carrier
Tom O'Donnell

Present and Past Clients
Charles S. Robb for Senate (Va.)
Herb Kohl for Senate (Wis.)
Ike Skelton for Congress (Mo.)
Gov. Gray Davis (Calif.)

Who They Are
Doak, who had a bitter parting with partner Bob Shrum in the early 1990s, had one of his biggest wins in 1998 with dark-horse California gubernatorial candidate Gray Davis. One of his new partners is Tom O'Donnell, longtime advisor to House Minority Leader Richard A. Gephardt. Thanks to those ties, the firm is slated to work on the DCCC's soft money "issue ads" this year for races east of the Mississippi.


Murphy, Pintak, Gautier, Hudome

Mike Murphy
Cliff Pintak
John Gautier
Mike Hudome

Present and Past Clients
Spencer Abraham for Senate (Mich.)
Phil English for Congress (Pa.)
Gov. Jeb Bush (Fla.)
Sen. Robert J. Dole (Kan.)
Gov. Christine Todd Whitman (N.J.)
President George Bush

Who They Are
On of the "Three Amigos" who handled media for President George Bush in his 1992 reelection campaign and then a top strategist in Lamar Alexander's 1996 race, Murphy worked this year for John McCain, enhancing his reputation for both irreverence and self-promotion. Another media consultant, Greg Stevens, was already signed up to make McCain's ads, so Murphy served as a general strategist-cum-sidekick for the Arizona senator and became a fixture sitting next to him on this campaign bus, "The Straight Talk Express."

Stevens & Schriefer

Stuart Stevens
Russell Schriefer

Present and Past Clients
George W. Bush for president
Robert J. Dole for president (primary only)
Gov. Tom Ridge (Pa.)
Gov. Paul Cellucci (Mass.)
Rep Rick Lazio (N.Y.)
Ellen Sauerbrey for governor (Md.)

Who They Are
A legendary ad man in the mode of the late Bob Squier, Stevens sees himself as something of a Renaissance man. A UCLA film school graduate, he has written for television shows such as "Northern Exposure" and "I'll Fly Away," and wrote a classic series of articles in Esquire on living the high life in Europe. With his partner Russ Schriefer, Stevens landed the Bush campaign last year and is teamed with longtime Democratic consultant Mark McKinnon to do the Texas Republican's ads. Four years ago he landed a big account--front-runner Robert J. Dole's presidential primary--but was eased out after Dole won the nomination.

National Media

Robin D. Roberts
Alex Castellanos

Present and Past Clients
Jim Talent for governor (Mo.)
Sen. Richard G. Lugar for Senate (Ind.)
Sen. Lauch Faircloth (N.C.)
Gov. David Beasley (S.C.)
Sen. Strom Thurmond (S.C.)
Sen. Phil Gramm (Tex.)

Who They Are
Castellanos was on of several ad men who cycled in and out of the 1996 Dole campaign and is best known for his scathing attack ads. The firm itself is becoming known for its high-tech services as much as its TV spots. These include a sophisticated ad tracking system, which monitors where ads actually run, and media buying services. This year Castellanos is handling the buying of ad time for the Bush campaign, while two other media consultants & Stuart Stevens and Mark McKinnon & create the spots.

Stevens, Reed, Curcio & Co.

Greg Stevens
Rick Reed
Paul Curcio

Present and Past Clients
John McCain for president
Sen. George V. Voinovich (Ohio)
Rep. Ernie Fletcher (Ky.)
Sen. Don Nickles (Okla.)

Who They Are
The other Stevens was the lead admaker for McCain's presidential campaign, having won the account over Smith & Harroff, the firm that for years had done McCain's senatorial races. Stevens Reed is known for its roster of Senate candidates.

© 2000 The Washington Post Company

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