Public Relations • Strategic Planning • Lobbying • Coalition Development
Grassroots Coordination • Public Opinion Polling

HighGround Wins Four National Awards

January 26th, 2015

The HighGround team won recognition in four categories at the 2015 Reed Awards last Friday in Las Vegas. The Reeds are national awards from Campaigns & Elections, the preeminent “how-to” journal of politics, focused on the tools, tactics and techniques of the political consulting profession.

The HighGround team was recognized for its work in the following categories:

Yes on 480 newspaper won for Best Lit Piece. Prop 480 passed in November with 63% of the vote.

Binsbacher’s “Eleven Year Old Gets out the Vote” won Best Automated Phone Call for County, Local, Mayoral, or Judicial Candidate. Bridget Binsbacher was the top vote getter in her primary. Her general election is in March.

Superhero Phone Call won for Best Automated Phone Call for Independent Expenditure, Ballot Initiative, or Issue Advocacy/Public Affairs Campaign. The campaign on behalf of Arizonans Can Make a Difference with a vote was aimed at increasing voter participation.

Hickman for Supervisor won for Best Yard and Outdoor Sign. Clint Hickman won the August Primary with 69.1% of the vote and was uncontested in the General Election.

See the full list of winners.

Last year, HighGround won two Reed awards from Campaigns & Elections. In addition, HighGround was part of the team that won the prestigious “Campaign of the Year” in the Public Affairs/Advocacy category and also won a Gold Pollie from the American Association of Political Consultants

The Reed Awards, named after Campaigns & Elections’ founder Stanley Foster Reed, recognize excellence in campaign management, political consulting and political design.

Happy MLK Day

January 19th, 2015

“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
August 28, 1963
Washington DC
Excepted from the speech given at the March on Washington

Certainly, the events of the past year should tell us that while we have come a long way in America, a long journey remains ahead. While racial bigotry is still a serious chord of discontent within our nation, it is too often used by our elected leaders to divide us, rather than to bring us together. Dr. King was the epitome of the selfless American leader that our country needs so badly today.

When Ronald Reagan declared Dr. King’s birthday as a national holiday, he wrote, “Dr. King’s work is not done, but neither is his witness stilled. He urged again and again that all of us come to love and befriend one another, to live in brotherhood and reconciliation, to nourish each generation with the lessons of justice and charity that Dr. King taught with his unflinching determination, his complete confidence in the redeeming power of love, and his utter willingness to suffer, to sacrifice and to serve.”

“We must and we can all be drum majors for justice. That is our duty and glory as Americans.”

As Arizonans and Americans, we should celebrate this day and recommit ourselves and the words we use to those chords of public discussion which bring us together – the words which take us to a higher place that is worthy of all of the sacrifices made before us that enable us today to live in the greatest country on Earth.

Happy MLK Day.

HighGround Finalist for Eleven Reed Awards

January 7th, 2015

With the beginning of the New Year comes the announcement of the finalists for the prestigious 2015 Reed Awards from Campaigns & Elections. HighGround, Inc. has been named as a finalist in 11 categories for its work on various successful campaigns including Yes on 480 hospital bond campaign, Clint Hickman for Maricopa County Supervisor, and others. Click here to see the entire list.

This outstanding showing follows last year’s very successful awards season where HighGround won AAPC’s 2014 Campaign Excellence Public Affairs/Advocacy Campaign of the Year award for “Restoring Arizona” as well as two Reed Awards and a Gold Pollie Award.

“First and foremost, we would like to thank our clients for the opportunity to do our best work on their behalf,” said Chuck Coughlin, President of HighGround, Inc., “We are proud of the creative work we did this year to set our campaigns apart. We are honored by the recognition.”

Among the 11 categories, three are in the “Overall” categories which represent the best of the 2014 election cycle. HighGround earned accolades in a wide range of campaign disciplines including direct mail, phone calls, signs, and web videos.

HighGround was named as a finalist in the following categories:

•  Best Automated Phone Call Of 2014
•  Best Collateral Item or Sign of 2014
•  Best Direct Mail Piece of 2014
•  Best Mail Piece for Ballot Initiative
•  Best Mail Piece for Public Affairs/Issue Advocacy Campaign – Statewide or Local
•  Best Lit Piece
•  Best Automated Phone Call for County, Local, Mayoral, or Judicial Candidate
•  Best Automated Phone Call for Independent Expenditure, Ballot Initiative, or Issue Advocacy/Public Affairs Campaign
•  Best Web Video for Ballot Initiative
•  Best Web Video for Mayoral Candidate
•  Best Yard and Outdoor Signs

The Reed Awards, named after Campaigns & Elections’ founder Stanley Foster Reed, recognize excellence in campaign management, political consulting and political design.

How I’ll Remember Governor Brewer

January 4th, 2015

By: Drew Sexton

Over the past few weeks, as Arizona prepares to move forward under a new era of leadership from our state’s elected officials, pundits and politicians from both sides of the aisle have weighed in on what Governor Janice K. Brewer’s legacy is, will be and whether or not she was a good governor. To be frank, many of those summations have been less than kind. From liberal Democrats wailing about her efforts to stop illegal immigration across our southern border to far right conservatives incredulous that she would dare institute a temporary tax to fund education, nobody seems to remember her policy accomplishments fondly.

Reading these critics’ harshest takes reminded me of Aristotle’s quote: “To avoid criticism say nothing, do nothing, be nothing.” We should be glad Governor Brewer did not ascribe to that mentality which has infected too many of our nation’s leaders.

I was fortunate to see Governor Brewer in a different light than many, outside of the legislative and policy battles and where I believe she shined the brightest: meeting with, shaking hands and listening to every day citizens from Yuma to Flagstaff, Lake Havasu City to Tucson, Santa Barbara to New York City and everywhere in between. From touring hospitals and rallying support for Medicaid Restoration to addressing reporters on every issue from SB 1062 to what race Santa Claus was, I had the honor of working directly with her every day.

I was tasked with organizing agendas, keeping extra copies of remarks on hand and ensuring the Governor got through every event in a timely fashion and had whatever she needed to represent the state. Over my year of service, there were hundreds of events and many remarks that I won’t remember.

What I will remember, though, is the faces of people of every race, age and gender throughout our state lighting up when they got a chance to interact with Governor Brewer. Truthfully, I was not very good at the “keeping the Governor on time” part of my job. This was because Governor Brewer always strived to make time for one more handshake, one more picture and a few more moments to hear from Arizonans about their stories and how much they appreciated her leadership. Her genuine ability to connect with Arizonans is unlike anything I’ve seen from any other person or elected official.

I’ll remember my first interaction with her, as a wide-eyed intern at HighGround. I was frantically stocking our refrigerator with Coke Zeroes to make sure we had enough for dozens when she entered our kitchen and asked if I had her drink. I stammered we had plenty as she looked me over, grabbed a can, smiled and said, “Well, I guess Chuck has taught you well!”

I’ll remember Governor Brewer staying an extra 45 minutes at the Arizona Federation of Republican Women event in Prescott to shake hands and share unique stories with members she had worked with for decades. I’ll remember the look of awe on the elementary students at Park Meadows in Glendale when she took the time to talk with them about the importance of school and take pictures before she announced her decision to retire.

I’ll remember the tears in the eyes of nurses at Tucson Medical Center as Governor Brewer thanked them for their work and vowed to not stop working until Medicaid Restoration was passed. I’ll remember hearing from folks in Yuma about how much they appreciated Governor Brewer joining them for their city’s 100th anniversary and knowing she hadn’t forgot about those who lived in rural Arizona.

I’ll remember the host of an event at GCU shaking the Governor’s hand upon arrival and exclaiming how great it was to have a “kickass, female leader” like Governor Brewer address her group. I’ll remember a lady in Santa Barbara taking a picture with her young daughter and Governor Brewer and telling her she drove six hours to meet her because “it was important to meet such a strong, tough lady that was an example for my daughter that she could do anything.”

I think that ultimately that’s what Arizonans outside the political chattering class will remember about Governor Brewer. Not TPT reform or the ACA or any policy decision or any interaction on a tarmac (although it always made me chuckle how different the public’s perception of that event was from our media’s perception).

It was her genuine smile, her ability to connect with people and not BS them that will stay with people. It was her determination to dig her (high) heels in when she made her mind up on an issue and subsequently kick her opponents’ butts with them, Republicans and Democrats alike. It was her leadership in Arizona’s darkest moments to steady the ship and guide us to brighter days that people will remember and appreciate.

I can’t thank Governor Brewer enough for all the experiences and moments she allowed me to share with her. And I’ll always remember to keep a cold bottle of Coke Zero in my fridge just in case.

Reflecting on Governor Brewer’s Legacy

January 1st, 2015

By: J. Charles Coughlin

As we begin a new era in Arizona governance, there has been a lot written about the legacy of our outgoing Governor and my friend, Jan Brewer. As the Chairman of her transition team and after helping her and her son run her campaigns since she left the State Legislature in 1996, I have a unique perspective on her career as a public servant.

My first real discussion with her took place when she served as Majority Whip for the State Senate caucus in 1995. At the time, I was working for Governor Fife Symington as his Deputy Chief of Staff. Our team was working to pass his legislative agenda. I asked then Senator Brewer why a certain bill had not gone to the floor for a final vote, and she bluntly told me that I did not have the votes to pass the bill.

As I confidently ran through my vote count, she looked at me with the same expression many of us are familiar with today. She simply reiterated that I did not have my votes. I inquired of her who on my list was not supporting the legislation. She responded, “That’s not my job.”

She was right, of course. It was my job to count votes on the Governor’s legislation; it was her job to hold the confidences of her Senate Republican colleagues. Our team went to work and discovered which Republican Senators were wavering and collected the necessary votes to get the bill passed.

That story has stuck with me for nearly 20 years, because it told me a lot about the women who would later become our State’s 22nd Governor. She knew her job, she always kept her word, and she held the confidences of her colleagues very close. She was the kind of friend, the kind of leader you would want in a tough spot.

Why did Jan Brewer become Governor? Well, there was a long string of events which led her to that point but, when Arizona needed its own “Iron Lady,” Janice K. Brewer, the woman who knew her job, kept her word, and was loyal to her colleagues, was on the deck of the ship of state.

Jan Brewer became Governor at one of our State’s darkest hours. As she said during her inaugural speech, “At a government’s new hour we normally find ourselves uplifted by possibility. But today, we find ourselves weighed down with obligation — overdue obligation. We are gathered amid uncertain times, with a difficult work before us. In some ways this feels like you’ve just shown up for a party — but the guests have all gone, only the caterer is left and she immediately hands you the bill…Even in hard times, we must do good work, in honest trust with those we serve, and the people will thank us for it.”

In her first year in office, she vetoed 5 straight Republican budgets and sued her own Republican legislature – in a year leading up to an election!

That January, a prominent and well respected CEO of a large corporation told me that there was not a handful of business leaders in Arizona who believed she would be elected. I assured him that he had not met the Jan Brewer I knew.

In her 2010 State of the State Speech, she said, “…if there’s one thing I’ve learned in my years of public service, it’s that doing the right thing – almost always means doing the hard thing.”

She reminded all of Arizona during that speech that no Governor in the history of Arizona had cut more from the State Government’s budget than she had (a record that will likely never be broken).

She said, “…there is no one here, and no one elsewhere, who has fought any longer or harder than I have for lower taxes, job growth and economic freedom in Arizona. So, spare us the profiles in courage; it’s time for a little less profile and a little more courage.”

Arizona faced the real threat of insolvency or bankruptcy.

She said, “My fellow Arizonans, we are living amid hard times. These are difficult days that providence has set before us. I do not shrink from them. I do not cower. And, neither should you.”

She challenged us all saying, “Some Arizonans look at their political leaders and see countless actors on a stage, but precious few workers in the field. My friends, let us gather in the field.”

Less than six weeks later, she had her budget, her constitutional referral, and her team gave Arizona a chance. Jan Brewer sacrificed her political ambition – she put it all on the line and Arizona won because she led.

By May of 2010, 58% of Arizona voters approved Proposition 100, a temporary sales tax increase. By July, a crowded Republican field opposing her had dwindled to a few pretenders. By November, the State elected her in a near landslide.

Much has been said and written about her legacy as it relates to border security and immigration reform, two issues that made her an internationally known political figure.

From my perspective, I go back to that conversation we had in 1996. Counting my votes was not her job, securing the border and passing immigration reform measures are not the job of a State Governor, they are the jobs of the President and Congress.

Politics, however, abhors a vacuum and the border security crisis is the result of failed leadership in Washington. As a Governor, she became a voice of frustration for a portion of the electorate who was fed up with drop houses, human smuggling, and the illegal drug trade.

It is disappointing that President Obama didn’t choose to join Brewer in the field, at the border, but rather chose to vilify her and the frustrations of a significant portion of the electorate. Perhaps, if he had, she would have taken him up on the offer to help solve the problem, much like she addressed our State’s fiscal challenges.

As she closed her 2010 speech, she concluded, “When our public service is over, we will be judged less by what we achieved, than what we overcame. And we will be remembered less for what we gained, than what we gave.”

Jan Brewer should be remembered by the fact that she chose to be a worker in the field. She chose to serve others rather herself, she chose to sacrifice her own political ambition so that our State could continue to grow and prosper. She overcame much to serve honorably.

Jan Brewer will be remembered by me more for what she gave. She gave her all, when it counted the most.