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2015 Best of the Capitol

April 27th, 2015

This time of year brings us gorgeous weather, cherry blossoms in Washington DC, and of course, the Arizona Capitol Times Best of the Capitol awards. The 2015 nominations are in and we’re asking you for your consideration. Click here to see the entire list of nominations.

Please take the time to vote for HighGround and our friends in a couple of categories:

22.   Best Political Operative: Chuck Coughlin
23.   Best Campaign Consultant: Paul Bentz
26.   Best Twitterer: Paul Bentz
28.   Best Ballot Measure: Yes on 480
29.   Best Campaign Sign: Supervisor Clint Hickman
30.   Best Web Video: Really!?

Voting this year has been limited to Capitol Times Subscribers only, but they are offering a subscription special for $99. Subscribe, save and vote! Click here to vote.  The deadline is April 30th.

Thank you for your continued support! Good luck to everyone who has been nominated.

Lincoln’s Strength of Character

April 14th, 2015

It was 150 years ago today that our country lost one of its finest Presidents. Abraham Lincoln saw this nation through some of its darkest moments.

In Team of Rivals, Doris Kearns Goodwin recognized Abraham Lincoln’s ability to understand his own emotional needs and connected it to Daniel Goleman’s definition of emotional intelligence saying, “‘Having hope means that one will not give in to overwhelming anxiety, a defeatist attitude, or depression in the face of difficult challenges or setbacks.’ Hope is ‘more than the sunny view that everything will turn out all right;’ it is ‘believing that you have the will and the way to accomplish your goals.’”

Abraham Lincoln had tremendous strength of character.  He is the standard by which all elected leaders must test themselves.

We have been fortunate enough to work for a few that met that bar. May we all be blessed with such an opportunity again.

The Dark Soul of the Tea Party Movement

April 8th, 2015

By: J. Charles Coughlin

In yesterday’s Arizona Capitol Times Yellow Sheet Report, I was quoted as saying that, if the State Senator from Mohave County chose to challenge our incumbent United States Senator John McCain that her candidacy would “die in the darkness of her own soul.”

These are tough words that need, in my estimation, some further explanation.

Gratefulness is the parent of all other virtues. I find that most Tea Party advocates, such as the State Senator from Mohave County, appear to lack any gratitude for the fact that we live in the greatest country on Earth. When I listen to a good deal of their rhetoric, I am drenched in negativity; the politics of vilification, the hatred of those who want to blame others for the challenges that confront our country today.

The Tea Party has become the “Party of No” and that is not the Republican Party I am a part of. It is not the party that John McCain, Jan Brewer, Fife Symington, Grant Woods (all of whom I have worked for) represent. It is not the party of Jon Kyl, Jeff Flake, or Doug Ducey, either. All of these leaders are the products of American exceptionalism, a country based upon the notion that we are all created equal and are endowed by Our Creator with certain unalienable rights and among those is the right to pursue life, liberty and most of all, happiness.

In “The American Crisis,” Thomas Paine said, “What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly. It is dearness only that gives everything its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as freedom should be not highly rated.”

John McCain has paid the price. John McCain knows the value of liberty and of freedom. John McCain has been an honorable public servant his entire adult life.

As the next election cycle dawns, I hope all Republicans are aware that we have lost the last two elections to arguably the most liberal President in the history of the United States. I am done speaking platitudes to our Party’s disgruntled and ungrateful extreme right wing.

For me, I am going to celebrate the fact that Arizona has a US Senator capable of producing results on important issues like water rights, the fate of our State’s military bases and the future use of our abundant public lands. Most importantly to me, Senator McCain is dedicated to the future security of our State’s border and the resolution of an immigration debate which has the greatest impact on the future of our State’s economy to grow, to thrive, and to create opportunities for others – to continue to give life to the American dream.

Teddy Roosevelt said, “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.” We need more leaders like Teddy Roosevelt and John McCain, who epitomize the opportunity economy of the American Dream, in public service today. For me, I will not let that dream die in the ungrateful, thoughtless hands of yet another Tea Party candidate.

All Americans should ask themselves the question posed by author Robert Thurman, “What is the deepest part of your inner mind, when you get away from all the surface distractions? What is down inside there? Is it a joyful, happy spirit? Is it an open loving spirit? Is it a bubbling well of positive energy? If it is, then that is the place you will be in the future.”

If it is not, well, put down the tea and figure that out for the rest of our sakes.

HighGround Takes Home Three Awards at 2015 Pollies

March 23rd, 2015

HighGround was again well represented at the 2015 Pollies in New Orleans, winning three awards from the American Association of Political Consultants at their celebration of the best in political campaigning and advertising. Considered the “Political Oscars,” the annual event is a bipartisan gathering for politicos from across the country and well known for awarding the prestigious Pollies to the creators of the past year’s best political work.

This year was one of the Phoenix firm’s most successful Pollies, as they took home a Gold Award and two Silver Awards. In addition, our own Paul Bentz, Vice President of Accounts and Strategy, was named to the inaugural “40 Under 40” class for exceptional young consultants.

“We are honored and humbled to be recognized by the AAPC for some of our work over the last year,” said Chuck Coughlin, President. “It takes a total team effort to find new and creative ways to communicate with voters about the most important issues facing our state, so it is quite rewarding to see we’ve made an impact. We’re thankful to have worked for great clients and we look forward to continue playing a role in the public policy arena.”

HighGround was awarded for excellence in the following categories:

  • Gold Award, Best Use of Unusual Phone Techniques:  Superhero Calls – Arizonans Can Make a Difference With a Vote
  • Silver Award, Automated Calls:  Superhero Calls - Arizonans Can Make a Difference With a Vote
  • Silver Award, Automated Calls (Local/Municipal/Regional): Eleven Year Old Gets Out The Vote – Bridget Binsbacher for Peoria City Council

 About HighGround

The HighGround team provides its clients with a success-oriented, diverse team of media, public and government affairs experts. We specialize in dealing with complex issues on behalf of clients that face challenges or seek opportunities on a variety of governmental and public affairs levels. Many of these issues involve interfacing with local, county, state and federal government entities, developing diverse coalitions, and crafting thoughtful media strategies.

The firm is small and all principals are actively engaged in the company’s portfolio of clients. We have over 50 years of combined experience on Arizona issues. This translates into unparalleled connections and a unique understanding of Arizona. To learn more about HighGround, visit our website.

About the American Association of Political Consultants

Founded in 1969, the AAPC is a multi-partisan organization of political and public affairs professionals dedicated to improving democracy. The AAPC has over 1,250 members hailing from all corners of the globe.  It is the largest association of political and public affairs professionals in the world. For more information, see

Paul Bentz wins “40 Under 40” Award from AAPC

March 19th, 2015

We’re proud to announce that HighGround’s own Paul Bentz was named a “40 Under 40” Award winner from the American Association of Political Consultants (AAPC).

“I am very honored to receive this recognition from such a respected organization and be counted among such an accomplished group of professionals,” said Paul Bentz, Vice President, Accounts and Strategy. “I want to thank everyone at HighGround for making this possible – everything we make happen is because of the team, the team, the team.  I want to especially thank Chuck Coughlin for being such an amazing leader and mentor.”

“This is a major honor,” noted AAPC President Art Hackney. “The AAPC is proud to recognize leaders and innovators such as Paul Bentz who have already positively impacted our industry before their 40th birthday.  It was amazing to see the large number of nominations for this new recognition; all of them worthy, and all of them the future of our industry.”

The AAPC announced the winners of the first ever “40 Under 40” awards at the 2015 Annual Pollie Awards & Conference on March 18 in New Orleans, LA. The Pollie Awards (Pollies) are bipartisan honors awarded annually by the AAPC to members of the political advertising and communications industry who have demonstrated superior work on behalf of their candidates and causes. Esquire magazine has dubbed the Pollies as “…the Oscars of political advertising.”

AAPC Vice President Mark Mellman also noted: “Competition for the inaugural “40 Under 40” list was intense. Our bipartisan team of judges reviewed the resumes of many very accomplished pollsters, advertising executives, researchers, campaign managers, and digital strategists from across the political spectrum.”

Only 15 Republicans, 15 Democrats, and 10 nonpartisan operatives in the United States were named to this exclusive “40 Under 40” winners list. Award winners were graded on a 40-point scale and selected for extraordinary achievements in politics and public affairs. Contributions to the health of the political business community through volunteer work and other forms of philanthropy were also considered.

Click here to view the full list of the 2015 “40 under 40” winners.

About Paul Bentz

Paul Bentz has more than a decade of experience in strategy, messaging, and campaign management.  During his time with the HighGround team, he has been at the point of a wide variety of major public policy and campaign issues.  He also specializes in public opinion surveys and understanding the Arizona electorate.  Read full bio.

About the AAPC

Founded in 1969, the AAPC is a multi-partisan organization of political and public affairs professionals dedicated to improving democracy. The AAPC has over 1,250 members hailing from all corners of the globe.  It is the largest association of political and public affairs professionals in the world. For more information, see