Political Consultant Cares About Character

By Nicole Cisneros McKeen

In his decade at the highest level in American politics, political consultant John Balduzzi ’01 has learned there is one overriding factor that makes a successful candidate.

First and foremost, the candidate needs to be a nice person. “Charac­ter is key,” says Balduzzi, who serves as president of The Balduzzi Group, dividing his time between Washington, D.C., and Syracuse, New York.

He takes a realistic approach when it comes to helping his clients: “I’m not going to change who [they] are. I have seen people try to change their candi­dates. That’s not sincere and [they] are not going to win.”

Of course, the candidate’s education and political backbone are also factors, but as the John Edwards trial illus­trated, most political flameouts come down to a flawed character.

Balduzzi also learned during his tenure that timing is everything. Dur­ing the 2004 presidential campaign, he was part of John Kerry’s staff when the Democratic candidate’s military record was challenged by the Swift Boat Vets. A few hundred people signed a petition opposing Kerry, causing a political issue for the can­didate.

“The campaign did not respond to the attacks immediately,” he said. “And when they did, it was too late. Now any time my client’s character is called into question, we respond fully and fight back.”

Those tough times in a campaign show the true character of those in the thick of it—the consultants, the advisers, and ultimately the candi­dates.

Read more about IC alumni who work behind the scenes in the world of politics at these links:

Georgia Bills ’74 represented Massachusetts State Representative Jerry Parisella while he was deployed in Iraq.

Les Bernal ’91 is executive director of Stop Predatory Gambling.

Tammy Mayberry ’97 is a a lobbyist for the City of Chi­cago in Wash­ington, D.C.

Dan Lamb ’86 has served as a top adviser to U.S. Con­gressman Maurice Hinchey since 1997.

Rob Bluey ’01 is the director of the Center for Media and Public Policy at the Heritage Foundation

Rob Flaherty ’13 served as campaign communi­cations director for Ithaca mayor Svante Myrick.

Sam Adams ’11 interned in Senator Olympia Snowe's office.