J. Charles “Chuck” Coughlin
Chuck Coughlin has over 30 years of experience in Arizona public affairs, lobbying, politics, and strategic messaging. He is the founder and President of HighGround, Inc. – one of the most successful public affairs firms in Arizona. HighGround is about to celebrate its 20th anniversary, spanning three Presidents, four Governors, eight Senate Presidents, and seven Speakers of the House.
Mr. Coughlin is a four time honoree as “Best Political Operative” from the Arizona Capital Times and was also previously named “Person You Would Least Like as a Political Opponent.” Coughlin and his team have been recognized multiple times for its campaign work by Campaigns and Elections and have earned more than two dozen awards from the American Association of Political Consultants including “2014 Campaign Excellence Public Affairs/Advocacy Campaign of the Year” for Medicaid Restoration.
The HighGround team has over 150 years of combined experience and a long tenure with the firm with Mr. Cole (17 years), Ms. Hamilton (17 years), Mr. Bentz (13 years), Ms. Fassett (10 years), Mr. Johnson (7 years), Mr. Smith (7 years), Ms. Richards (3 years), Mr. Sexton (3 years). Mr. Cunningham has been General Council for 3 years, friends since 1991, when they both worked for then Attorney General Grant Woods.
Passionate about Arizona and its future, Chuck Coughlin spends his time, energy, and political capital on policy efforts that make Arizona a better place. He has played a key role in several recent major public policy issues including higher education; reliable and affordable power generation; the Yes on 480 public hospital bond; Medicaid Restoration; battling against the dangers of energy deregulation; and the passage of Proposition 100 – the temporary one-cent sales tax increase passed by 64% of Arizona voters to stabilize the State’s budget in 2010. Mr. Coughlin is also passionate about State Trust Land Reform and illegal immigration reform – two key issues that he believes are critical to Arizona’s future economy.
Coughlin was asked to serve by then-Secretary of State Jan Brewer as the Chairman of her Transition Team when she became Governor in 2009. As the Transition Team Chairman, Coughlin assembled a diverse team of business and community leaders who recommended to the Governor her executive management team, senior policy positions, cabinet recommendations and coordinated her swearing in ceremonies. He served as lead strategist for Governor Brewer’s 2010 bid for a second term where she defeated her Republican Primary opponents with a sizable 81.5% of the vote. In the General Election, Brewer defeated Democratic Challenger Terry Goddard by a margin of 54.7% to 42.1%. Brewer won with support from across the state including a stunning 120,000 vote advantage in Maricopa County.
As the President of Highground, Inc., Coughlin has also managed hundreds of statewide and local elections, lobbied on behalf of numerous clients and played key roles in several public affairs campaigns including: the development of a new stadium for the Fiesta Bowl and the Arizona Cardinals; the extension of Maricopa County’s ½ cent sales tax for transportation; the creation and funding of the Maricopa Integrated Health Care District in Maricopa County; and ensured the passage of a Mesa ballot proposition in support of a new Spring Training home for the Chicago Cubs.
Before founding HighGround, Coughlin was the Deputy Chief of Staff for Governor Fife Symington. He was responsible for day-to-day management and implementation of all media, legislative and community relations programs for the Administration. Prior to joining the Governor’s staff, Coughlin managed the Governor’s 1994 re-election campaign. The Governor won re-election with over 54% of the popular vote despite being down by a 28-point margin six weeks prior to Election Day.
Prior to joining Symington, Coughlin was the Regional Government Relations Manager for Waste Management of North America (1992-94), Director of Public Policy and Legislative Affairs for Attorney General Grant Woods (1990-91), Senior Account Executive for Nelson/Ralston/Robb Communications (1988-90), Director of Government Relations for the Mesa Chamber of Commerce (1986-88), and Finance Director for McCain for Senate (1985-86).
Coughlin’s lengthy background in public affairs combined with his honest, straightforward style has helped him develop a popular media following. Coughlin is and accomplished writer and speaker and is frequently asked to offer his professional opinion on political issues that affect the state and the nation in various local and national publications.
Chuck lives in Arcadia with his wife Patricia, who excels in government, community, and business engagement as a Government Relations manager for Salt River Project. His daughter is currently a junior at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City. Chuck is active in his Arcadia neighborhood and is on the board of directors for the Roosevelt Row Community Development Corporation (CDC).