Jim Messina (political staffer)

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Jim Messina
Jm Messina in May 2009.jpg
White House Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations
In office
January 20, 2009 – January 26, 2011
President Barack Obama
Preceded by Blake Gottesman
Succeeded by Alyssa Mastromonaco
Personal details
Born (1969-10-29) 29 October 1969 (age 47)
Denver, Colorado, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Alma mater University of Montana, Missoula

Jim Messina (born 1969)[1] is a political adviser who was the White House Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations under President Barack Obama from 2009 to 2011 and served as the campaign manager for Obama's successful 2012 re-election campaign.[2][3][4] He is also a senior adviser to the UK Conservative Party.[5][6]

Early life, education, and early career[edit]

Messina was born in Denver, Colorado, and raised in Boise, Idaho. He graduated from Boise High School in Boise, Idaho in 1988 and earned his B.A. in political science and journalism[7] from the University of Montana in 1993.[8] In 1993, as a college senior, Messina managed Democratic Mayor Dan Kemmis's successful re-election bid for Mayor of Missoula, Montana.[9] Messina has Italian ancestry; in 2013 he received the Machiavelli Award as the Italian American Democrat of the Year.[10]

Political career[edit]


In 1995, Messina was hired by Democratic U.S. Senator Max Baucus of Montana. They describe their relationship as father-son-like.[citation needed] In 1999, he became Chief of Staff to Democratic U.S. Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy of New York.


In 2002, he ran Baucus's 2002 re-election campaign. Messina "refused to let Baucus attend any debate that didn’t include a third-party candidate whose skin had turned blue from drinking an anti-infection solution, a distraction to help take attention away from the credible Republican candidate."[11] Messina was purportedly responsible for creating an infamously homophobic television ad for Baucus.[12]

He then became Chief of Staff to U.S. Senator Byron Dorgan of North Dakota, from 2002 to 2004. In 2004, he made $80,510 and in 2005 made $128,936[13][14]

In 2005, he re-united with Baucus and became his Chief of Staff. Messina was integral in devising the Democratic strategy that prevented the allowance of private accounts within Social Security.[15] Messina was credited by the New York Times Magazine as the brains behind the defeat of President Bush’s plan.[16]

Messina has also been involved with other political campaigns from Alaska to New York, including serving as an advisor to Montana State Senator Jon Tester's successful election in 2006.[15]

Messina was hired as National Chief of Staff for the Obama campaign in the 2008 general election.[17] He was credited with leading the efforts to staff up for the general election and controlled a $750 million budget, which he told the New York Times magazine was like “getting the keys to a fucking Ferrari.”[18] After Obama won, Messina was named Director of Personnel for the Obama-Biden Transition team, helping Obama pick his cabinet.[19]

Messina became President Obama's White House Deputy Chief of Staff and earned the nickname "the fixer."[20] Dan Pfeiffer calls Messina “the most powerful person in Washington that you haven’t heard of.”[21] He also said that Messina and Rahm Emanuel had a "crazy relationship" and explained that “You’d be in a meeting, and Rahm would bark out that something needed to be done; Jim would disappear from Rahm’s office, pop through the door a few minutes later and say, ‘Got it!’ or ‘Got him!’”[22] Messina was integral to the passage on the Affordable Care Act and was widely credited with the effort to repeal Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.[23][24]


Messina celebrates Obama's reelection in November 2012.

Messina was Obama's campaign manager during the 2012 Presidential Election. For his work, the American Political Consultant’s association named him the International Strategist of the Year.[25] In January 2013, Messina became head of Organizing for Action (OFA), using the Obama For America database and other resources to support President Obama's legislative agenda in his second term. While OFA was formed in 2009 by the President-elect, it was reformed as a political-action non-profit group in January, 2013. He also founded The Messina Group,[26] a full-service consulting firm with offices in Washington, DC, New York, San Francisco, and London.[27]

Messina was hired as a campaign strategy adviser to the British Conservative Party in August 2013. Messina operated from the US during the 2015 general election campaign. In a statement, Messina also added his personal admiration for Prime Minister David Cameron.[28]

Messina is currently the co-Chair of the Priorities USA Action, a SuperPAC, which supports the election of Hillary Clinton as President in the 2016 election.[29]

In January 2016 Messina was hired by Prime Minister of Italy, Matteo Renzi, as campaign's advisor for the constitutional referendum in December.[30] His campaign resulted in a complete debacle which forced Renzi to resign as Prime Minister. [31]

Messina received 400,000 euros for his advice.[32]


  1. ^ "Obama's People". The New York Times Magazine. Retrieved 2009-01-19. 
  2. ^ "Obama makes early appointments". marcambinder.theatlantic.com. Archived from the original on November 17, 2008. Retrieved 2008-11-18. 
  3. ^ Tapper, Jake (2011-01-27). "Jay Carney Picked as New White House Press Secretary". ABC News. Retrieved 2011-01-27. 
  4. ^ Zeleny, Jeff (2011-04-02). "An Obama Insider, Running the Race From Afar". The New York Times. 
  5. ^ Eilperin, Juliet. "Jim Messina signs on as campaign adviser to Conservatives — in Britain". Washington Post. Retrieved 2013-08-03. 
  6. ^ "Tories hire Obama campaign chief Jim Messina". Retrieved 2015-04-08. 
  7. ^ "School of Journalism". jour.umt.edu. Retrieved 2015-04-08. 
  8. ^ "Obama Hires Boise High Graduate as Chief of Staff". New West Boise. Retrieved 2009-11-24. 
  9. ^ "How to get an Obama staff job - Andie Coller". Politico.com. Retrieved 2012-04-12. 
  10. ^ "Jim Messina to receive Machiavelli Award as the Italian American Democrat of the Year at Inaugural Reception Sunday". italianamericansnews.com. Retrieved 2016-03-10. 
  11. ^ Thrush, Glenn. "Can Jim Messina get it done for President Obama? - Page 3". Politico.Com. Retrieved 2012-04-12. 
  12. ^ Hastings, Michael. "Obama Campaign Manager Behind Anti-Gay Ad". BuzzFeed.com. Retrieved 2012-06-18. 
  13. ^ "James A. Messina relationship map". Muckety. Retrieved 2012-04-12. 
  14. ^ — President Truman. "James A. Messina (Jim) - Congressional Staffer Salary Data". Legistorm.com. Retrieved 2012-04-12. 
  15. ^ a b Kornblut, Anne E. (2009-02-21). "Low-Profile Aide Messina Tackles Obama's Tough Political Problems". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2010-05-06. 
  16. ^ Bai, Matt (2005-07-17). "The Framing Wars". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2015-04-08. 
  17. ^ "Making a name". Missoula News. Retrieved 2015-04-08. 
  18. ^ "Battle Plans". The New Yorker. Retrieved 2015-04-08. 
  19. ^ Coller, Andie. "How to get an Obama staff job - Andie Coller - POLITICO.com". www.politico.com. Retrieved 2015-04-08. 
  20. ^ Huey, Caitlin (2011-04-11). "10 Things You Didn't Know About Jim Messina - US News and World Report". Usnews.com. Retrieved 2012-04-12. 
  21. ^ "Jim Messina, Obama's Enforcer". The Nation. 2011-03-30. Retrieved 2012-04-12. 
  22. ^ "Can Jim Messina get it done for President Obama? - Glenn Thrush". Politico.Com. Retrieved 2012-04-12. 
  23. ^ Kirkpatrick, David D. (2009-08-06). "White House Affirms Deal on Drug Cost". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2015-04-08. 
  24. ^ Gerstein, Josh. "White House sets 'don't ask' strategy session - Josh Gerstein". POLITICO. Retrieved 2015-04-08. 
  25. ^ "2013 Pollie Award Winners". www.theaapc.org. Retrieved 2015-04-08. 
  26. ^ "JIM MESSINA opens The Messina Group, with focus on Obama and progressives -- GEITHNER plans no-fee college tour on the craft of crisis response -- BIG WIN FOR MAYOR BLOOMBERG in Chicago race - POLITICO Playbook". POLITICO. Retrieved 2015-04-08.  |first1= missing |last1= in Authors list (help)
  27. ^ "The Messina Group -". themessinagroup.com. Retrieved 2015-04-08. 
  28. ^ Stratton, Allegra (2013-08-02). "Tories hire Obama campaign chief Jim Messina". BBC News. Retrieved 2013-08-03. 
  29. ^ "Priorities USA Action Announces New Leadership". Priorities USA Action. 
  30. ^ Renzi assume Jim Messina per risolvere i problemi del Pd (come consigliato dal Foglio mesi fa).
  31. ^ http://www.bbc.com/news/live/world-europe-38167322
  32. ^ http://m.huffpost.com/it/entry/12348602

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Blake Gottesman
White House Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations
Succeeded by
Alyssa Mastromonaco