Jim Messina (political staffer)

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Jim Messina
Jim Messina (OBAMA 2012) - 8703791069 (cropped).jpg
White House Deputy Chief of Staff
for Operations
In office
January 20, 2009 – January 26, 2011
PresidentBarack Obama
Preceded byBlake Gottesman
Succeeded byAlyssa Mastromonaco
Personal details
Born (1969-10-29) October 29, 1969 (age 51)
Denver, Colorado, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
EducationUniversity of Montana, Missoula (BA)

Jim Messina (born October 29, 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] His "innovative fusion of technology and politics led Google chairman Eric Schmidt to call the 2012 race 'the best-run campaign ever'."[5] He is currently CEO of The Messina Group.[6]

Messina became President Obama's White House Deputy Chief of Staff and earned the nickname "the fixer."[7] Dan Pfeiffer calls Messina "the most powerful person in Washington that you haven't heard of."[8] 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.[9][10]

In January 2013, the Obama administration announced the launch of Organizing for Action, an advocacy organization that would promote President Obama's policies, with Jim Messina as national chair.[11] That same year, Messina became Co-Chair of Priorities USA Action.[12]

In various roles he has advised a number of international campaigns and candidates, including former UK Prime Minister David Cameron,[13] Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy,[14] Prime Minister of Italy Matteo Renzi, and UK Prime Minister Theresa May.

Early life and education[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[15] from the University of Montana in 1993.[16] In 1993, as a college senior, Messina managed Dan Kemmis's successful re-election bid for Mayor of Missoula, Montana.[17]

Political career[edit]

Prior to first Obama campaign[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 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",[18] which was a distraction to help take attention away from the more credible Republican candidate. Messina was purportedly responsible for creating an infamously homophobic television ad for Baucus.[19]

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.[20] Messina was credited by the New York Times Magazine as the brains behind the defeat of President Bush's plan.[21]

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.[20] In 1999, he became Chief of Staff to Democratic U.S. Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy of New York. 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.[22][23]

Barack Obama presidential campaign, 2008[edit]

Messina was hired as National Chief of Staff for the Obama campaign in the 2008 general election.[24] He was credited with leading the efforts to staff up for the general election and controlled a $750 million budget.[25]

Messina celebrates Obama's reelection in November 2012.

After Obama won, Messina was named Director of Personnel for the Obama-Biden Transition team, helping Obama pick his cabinet.[26]

Barack Obama presidential campaign, 2012[edit]

Messina was Obama's campaign manager during the 2012 Presidential Election. In January 2011, Messina left his job at the White House and began "a rolling series of personal seminars with the CEOs and senior executives of companies that included Apple, Facebook, Zynga, Google, Microsoft, Salesforce, and DreamWorks.[27]" His goal, he said, was to learn everything he could about "organizational growth, emerging technologies, marketing,[27]" to better serve the President in his role as campaign manager during the 2012 re-election campaign.

For his work, the American Political Consultant's association named him the International Strategist of the Year.[28]

After second Obama campaign[edit]

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 founded The Messina Group,[when?][29] a full-service consulting firm with offices in Washington, DC, New York, San Francisco, and London.[30]

In August 2013, Messina signed on as a consultant to the British Conservative Party, helping them successfully fend off a challenge from the Labour Party in 2015.[31] "Whereas British pollsters consistently missed that the Tories were moving into pole position, Messina's internal numbers showed for weeks they were on course to be the largest party.[32]"

While some were surprised by Mr. Messina's move to work with the Tories, The Telegraph pointed out that "this makes more sense when you consider that Mr Cameron's policies – such as support for gay marriage and confronting climate change – would probably make him a centrist Democrat in the United States.[32]" The combination of "data-driven ground game, relentless messaging and sophisticated social media is Mr Messina's signature,[33]" and as stated in The Telegraph, is what Mr. Messina brought to the Cameron campaign, ultimately aiding in a stunning victory for the Conservatives.[34] In a statement, Messina also added his personal admiration for Prime Minister David Cameron.[35]

In January 2016 Messina was hired by Prime Minister of Italy, Matteo Renzi, as campaign's advisor for the constitutional referendum in December.[36] The campaign was unsuccessful and Renzi was forced to resign as Prime Minister in its wake.[37] Messina received 400,000 euros for his advice.[38]

In June 2016, Messina began working with Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy,[14] using data and targeted social media that ultimately helped Rajoy win a bigger than expected victory and take charge of a minority government in October of that year.[39]

Jim Messina worked with Prime Minister Theresa May as a campaign strategist for the 2017 United Kingdom elections.[40] Theresa May and the Conservatives suffered a very underwhelming performance, in which she successfully remained Prime Minister, however, did not manage to keep Conservatives in the majority.[41] For May, the election has been called a "disastrous gamble".[42]

Personal life[edit]

Messina has Italian ancestry; in 2013 he received the Machiavelli Award as the Italian American Democrat of the Year.[43]


  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. ^ Parker, George; Allen, Kate (2016-06-13). "On the In-side: the campaign to keep Britain in the EU". Financial Times. Retrieved 2017-07-24.
  6. ^ "The Messina Group -". themessinagroup.com. Retrieved 2017-07-24.
  7. ^ 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.
  8. ^ "Jim Messina, Obama's Enforcer". The Nation. 2011-03-30. Retrieved 2012-04-12.
  9. ^ Kirkpatrick, David D. (2009-08-06). "White House Affirms Deal on Drug Cost". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2015-04-08.
  10. ^ Gerstein, Josh. "White House sets 'don't ask' strategy session - Josh Gerstein". POLITICO. Retrieved 2015-04-08.
  11. ^ "Obama unveils 'Organizing for Action'". POLITICO. Retrieved 2017-07-24.
  12. ^ "Obama campaign to support super PAC fundraising". Retrieved 2017-07-24.
  13. ^ Jacobs, Ben (2015-05-08). "Does David Cameron's win mean Jim Messina is better than David Axelrod?". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2017-07-24.
  14. ^ a b "May Hires Jim Messina for U.K. Conservative Election Team". Bloomberg.com. 2017-04-24. Retrieved 2017-07-24.
  15. ^ "School of Journalism". jour.umt.edu. Retrieved 2015-04-08.
  16. ^ "Obama Hires Boise High Graduate as Chief of Staff". New West Boise. Retrieved 2009-11-24.
  17. ^ "How to get an Obama staff job - Andie Coller". Politico.com. Retrieved 2012-04-12.
  18. ^ Thrush, Glenn. "Can Jim Messina get it done for President Obama? - Page 3". Politico.com. Retrieved 2012-04-12.
  19. ^ Hastings, Michael. "Obama Campaign Manager Behind Anti-Gay Ad". BuzzFeed.com. Retrieved 2012-06-18.
  20. ^ 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.
  21. ^ Bai, Matt (2005-07-17). "The Framing Wars". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2015-04-08.
  22. ^ "James A. Messina relationship map". Muckety. Archived from the original on 2017-07-16. Retrieved 2012-04-12.
  23. ^ — President Truman. "James A. Messina (Jim) - Congressional Staffer Salary Data". Legistorm.com. Retrieved 2012-04-12.
  24. ^ "Making a name". Missoula News. Retrieved 2015-04-08.
  25. ^ "Battle Plans". The New Yorker. Retrieved 2015-04-08.
  26. ^ Coller, Andie. "How to get an Obama staff job - Andie Coller - POLITICO.com". www.politico.com. Retrieved 2015-04-08.
  27. ^ a b "Obama's CEO: Jim Messina Has a President to Sell". Bloomberg.com. 2012-06-15. Retrieved 2017-07-24.
  28. ^ "2013 Pollie Award Winners". www.theaapc.org. Archived from the original on 2015-03-25. Retrieved 2015-04-08.
  29. ^ "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.
  30. ^ "The Messina Group -". themessinagroup.com. Retrieved 2015-04-08.
  31. ^ https://www.facebook.com/eilperin. "Jim Messina signs on as campaign adviser to Conservatives — in Britain". Washington Post. Retrieved 2017-07-24.
  32. ^ a b "Jim Messina interview: how the pollsters got it wrong and why Labour lost | Coffee House". Coffee House. 2015-05-12. Retrieved 2017-07-24.
  33. ^ "American Way: can Jim Messina do for David Cameron what he did for Barack Obama?". Telegraph.co.uk. Retrieved 2017-07-24.
  34. ^ Erlanger, Steven; Castle, Stephen (2015-05-08). "David Cameron and Conservatives Get Majority in British Election". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-07-24.
  35. ^ Stratton, Allegra (2013-08-02). "Tories hire Obama campaign chief Jim Messina". BBC News. Retrieved 2013-08-03.
  36. ^ Renzi assume Jim Messina per risolvere i problemi del Pd (come consigliato dal Foglio mesi fa).
  37. ^ "Italy's Matteo Renzi loses vote and offers resignation". 5 December 2016 – via www.bbc.com.
  38. ^ "Referendum, Jim Messina pagato 400 mila euro dal Pd per la campagna per il sì". The Huffington Post (in Italian).
  39. ^ "El secreto mejor guardado del triunfo de Rajoy: Big Data, Facebook y la gurú de Obama - Marketing Directo". Marketing Directo (in Spanish). 2016-07-04. Retrieved 2017-07-24.
  40. ^ "Believe it or not, but the Tories are running an energetic election campaign – you just can't see it". www.newstatesman.com. Retrieved 2017-06-09.
  41. ^ Castle, Stephen (2017-06-12). "Theresa May Battles to Hold On as U.K. Prime Minister". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-07-24.
  42. ^ https://www.facebook.com/mradamtaylor. "Analysis | Theresa May's disastrous gamble on the future of Britain". Washington Post. Retrieved 2017-06-09.
  43. ^ "Jim Messina to receive Machiavelli Award as the Italian American Democrat of the Year at Inaugural Reception Sunday". italianamericansnews.com. Retrieved 2016-03-10.

External links[edit]

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