Mike Lux (born May 13, 1960, Lincoln, Nebraska) is the co-founder and President of Progressive Strategies, L.L.C., a political consulting firm founded in 1999, focused on strategic political consulting for non-profits, labor unions, PACs and progressive donors.
Previously, he was Senior Vice President for Political Action at People For the American Way (PFAW), and the PFAW Foundation, and served in the Clinton White House from January 1993 to mid-1995 as a Special Assistant to the President for Public Liaison. He also played a role in five different presidential campaign teams. In recent years, he co-founded the influential progressive blog OpenLeft.com, and served in a key liaison role to the progressive community upon being named to the transition team for Barack Obama.
Lux serves on the boards of several progressive organizations, including the Arca Foundation. In addition to serving on the board, he was a co-founder of Americans United for Change, Center for Progressive Leadership, Grassroots Democrats, PoliticsTV, Progressive Majority, and Women's Voices Women Vote. He also played a role in helping launch the Center for American Progress and Air America.
Lux was born and raised in Lincoln, Nebraska. He graduated from Lincoln Northeast High School and attended Oberlin College. Early in his career, he worked with the VISTA program with Southeast Nebraska Small Farms Action Group. He then went on to become the Executive Director of Iowa Citizen Action Network. During the 1988 election cycle he served on the senior staff for the presidential campaigns of Joe Biden, and later, Paul Simon. He then co-founded The Strategy Group with David Wilhelm and was PAC Director and chief lobbyist for the Iowa AFL-CIO.
1992 Bill Clinton for President
In 1992, Lux took a leave of absence from the AFL-CIO when asked to serve as National Constituencies Director on the 1992 Clinton/Gore campaign. During the campaign, he was a part of the famous 1992 war room. After winning the election, he served on the 1992 Presidential transition team in a similar role.
1993–1995 White House
After a successful election, Bill Clinton appointed Lux as Special Assistant to the President for Public Liaison. Describing his job, Lux has been quoted as saying:
If you weren't an elected official or a reporter, we dealt with you. So we dealt with CEOs. We dealt with labor union folks. We dealt with trial lawyers. We dealt with public-interest groups. We dealt with trade associations, multi-client lobbyists. We dealt with everybody.
In this role, Lux was responsible for outreach to constituencies around the major 1993-94 health care reform battle. He organized several key events such as the first national clergy breakfast, the first state opinion leader's days, and the first bill signing ceremony of the Clinton presidency. He served in the 1993 budget war room and the 1994 health care war room, and was the White House staffer who organized the coalition to fight the school lunch cuts the Republicans were pushing in 1995, the first issue they were soundly defeated on after taking control of Congress.
1998 Work Against President Clinton's Impeachment
In the late 1990s, Lux joined People For the American Way, a major liberal organization working on constitutional issues and advancing the liberal movement. Once the name Monica Lewinsky began to appear above the fold on every newspaper in the country, he was put right in the middle of the ensuing political battle. He has said that he was "appalled" at what the President had done, but nevertheless also thought the impeachment campaign the Republicans began to wage against the President was a mockery of the Constitution. He and his colleagues at PFAW decided that given their vested interest in both combating the right and protecting the Constitution, they were the perfect organization to step into the middle of the issue.
Lux, along with PFAW and a handful of "Clintonites" such as James Carville, believed it to be politically disadvantageous to ignore the issue, and instead launched an ad campaign with the theme "It's time to move on". These ads were met with hostility from top Democratic Party leaders and consultants. Many of them began to publicly comment on the ads, saying that they were detrimental to the party as a whole, and that supporters should not be donating to PFAW.
Lux and PFAW soon partnered with Wes Boyd and Joan Blades,[who?] whose similar internet petition campaign was gaining ground quickly. PFAW along with a group that would become MoveOn.org worked to both rally grassroots groups around the cause and to deliver 500,000 signatures to members of Congress. The campaign was hailed by many as one of the key moments in the efforts to defeat impeachment of the President.
Co-Founding Progressive Strategies
In 1999, Lux co-founded Progressive Strategies L.L.C., a political consulting firm located in Washington, D.C., that works with a wide range of progressive entities, offering an array of services. According to their website:
We assist a variety of clients, such as issue advocacy groups, Political Action Committees (PACs), individual donors, new media pioneers, bloggers and socially responsible businesses with strategies that will help to build and manage their overall goals. We work actively to create and maintain comprehensive issue-based campaigns, incorporating all of the major tools of successful organizations including: public opinion research, Internet organizing and netroots outreach, fieldwork, paid advertising, earned media, political outreach and new media tools, including web video and podcasting. We also advise major funders and donors on how they can target their giving to have the most significant impact possible...
Clients include but are not limited to:
- Planned Parenthood
- NAACP Voter Fund
- USAction fund
- Center for Community Change
- Health Care for America Now
- League of Conservation Voters
- Democracy Alliance
- Progressive Majority
- Americans United for Change
Founding of American Family Voices
In 2000, Lux founded, and currently chairs, American Family Voices, an organization that encourages grassroots involvement on middle-class issues. AFV and Lux have received widespread media attention in recent years due to their ad campaigns. American newsmagazine National Review conceded that "American Family Voices has a talented leader, rich supporters, and some important friends in the press. That's more than enough to keep making trouble for George W. Bush."
In July 2007, Lux co-founded OpenLeft.com with bloggers Matt Stoller and Chris Bowers. OpenLeft is a news, analysis and action website dedicated toward building a progressive governing majority in America. It was also founded with intent to bridge conversational gaps between party insiders and grassroots activists, as exhibited by its Right to Respond option. Since its launch, OpenLeft is considered to be one of the most popular and influential progressive blogs in the country. It has also seen rapid growth in viewership, and currently averages well over 100,000 unique visitors per week. National publications such as The Nation have taken notice of OpenLeft, saying that the site allows for "substantive debate that would otherwise not occur". Other notable projects have stemmed from OpenLeft, such as the Bush Dog campaign, the Searching for John McCain campaign, and Chris Bowers' election forecasting discussions.
In August 2008, the Campaign for Community Change announced it was receiving a grant from Atlantic Philanthropies to hire Lux as a senior fellow. Describing his role, he wrote on OpenLeft:
"I have been a big fan of Deepak Bhargava and the Campaign for Community Change's work for a long time, I am looking forward to collaborating with this team to offer up my experience, insights and strategic advice, not only for the Campaign for Community Change, but also for the broader progressive community. Over the past years, the progressive movement has once again begun to rise and with the right vision, tactics and leadership, we can continue to inject the progressive vision of America into our public policy and into the great organizations that help to lead the charge on a day-to-day basis."
2008 Obama Transition Team
In November 2008, Lux was named to the Obama/Biden Transition team. In that role, he served as an adviser to the Public Liaison on relationships with the progressive community and gave strategic advice on structuring the Office of Public Liaison based on his past experience working on the Clinton/Gore Transition, as well as in the White House.
The Progressive Revolution
In January 2009, Lux released his first book, The Progressive Revolution: How the Best in America Came to Be, in which he deals with the history of conflicts between major conflicts progressives and conservatives, disputes long-time conservative myths about progressive leaders and accomplishments.
- OpenLeft website
- Online interview with Mike Lux
- Progressive Strategies website
- OpenLeft website
- Progressive Strategies website
- National Review reference to AFV
- The Nation website
- Huffington Post coverage of the Obama/Biden transition team
- The Progressive Revolution: How the Best in America Came to Be, Wiley & Sons, ISBN 978-0-470-39511-0