SUCCESS STORIES

CAMPAIGNS

Proposition 52: Deeply insightful strategy and meticulous execution leads to a groundbreaking sweep.

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    Proposition 52: In 2016, the California Hospital Association decided the best course for preserving a critical Medi-Cal deal struck with the state legislature was to bake the funding formula into California’s Constitution, which requires voter approval. Townsend Calkin Tapio acted as the general consultants for the campaign overseeing all aspects – strategy, television, radio, direct mail and digital media, press and communications, coalition building, political party endorsements, legal research and policy analysis. Total campaign spending was $60 million. On election day, the results were groundbreaking – the initiative garnered 70% of the vote and won in every county in California – a feat almost never accomplished in California ballot initiative politics.

Wiener for State Senate: Turning a primary loss into a dramatic election day victory.

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    Weiner for State Senate - Turning laser-sharp strategy into success
    Following a June primary loss, both the data and the pundits agreed Supervisor Scott Weiner was on the ropes. Not only was his opponent riding a wave of momentum from an in-person Bernie Sanders endorsement, but post-election analysis definitively indicated that any general election turnout above 80%—a virtual certainty—would make her unstoppable. The path to a turnaround began with the strategic insight that Kim’s values were fundamentally misaligned with voters on a single hot button issue. The next step was a high impact and clutter-cutting TV and digital campaign sponsored by EQCA, California’s largest LGBTQA organization. Final answer: Weiner by 2% in the face of record San Francisco voter turnout.

Anti-Three Strikes Law: An 11th-Hour electoral turnaround or, how to win a come-from-behind campaign with less than a month to go.

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    Anti-Three Strikes Law - An 11th-Hour Electoral Turnaround
    One month before the 2004 election, Proposition 66, which would have gutted California’s Three Strikes law, was ahead by 47 points in the polls. Dr. Henry Nicholas, the Orange County billionaire and victim’s rights advocate whose sister had been brutally murdered, decided to jump into the flagging effort to defeat the ballot initiative and brought in Bob Magnuson to partner with him on the campaign. At the 11th hour, the coalition of opponents was reenergized, four former governors were brought onboard, the earned media campaign kicked into overdrive, and $4 million was put into drive-time radio advertising in 100 media markets statewide. Prop. 66 was defeated 53% to 47% in what was called one of the biggest turnarounds in California electoral politics.

CONNECTIONS

The Moderate Democrats: Building an entire ecosystem to support reasonable governance and the people who make it possible.

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    The Moderate Democrats - Building an entire ecosystem to support reasonable governance
    In 1999, two years after Democrats won back majority control of the State Assembly from Republicans, Assembly Speaker Antonio Villaraigosa dropped a political bomb by introducing legislation to reform MICRA, California’s long-standing cap on medical malpractice damages. Speaker Villaraigosa’s bill ignited the passions of a nascent group of moderate Democrats--originally named the Democratic Business Caucus--who successfully worked to defeat the bill on the Floor of the Assembly just three months later.

    Recognizing there is safety in numbers, a PAC was formed to protect them during their re-election, and an organization established to provide policy support for the legislative activities of these pro-business Democrats. As term limits began churning subsequent waves of legislators out of office and new candidates needed to be supported, the importance of the new movement grew. Twenty years later, the political committee and policy organization created to support the moderate Democrats is stronger than ever, even with today’s Democrat supermajority in the Legislature.

PUBLIC AFFAIRS PROGRAMS

California Forestry Association: Changing the perceptions and politics of an entire industry.

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    California Forestry Association - Changing the perceptions and politics of an entire industry
    Year after year, environmentalists introduced bills in the legislature to ban the clear-cutting of trees by California timber companies. Environmental organizations used the bills to boost grassroots fundraising, but if one of these bills were ever to become law, it would devastate the timber industry and several family-owned companies would be forced out of business. The timber industry is virtually all Republican, so the easy political calculation for the Democratic-controlled legislature was to vote for clear-cutting bans. Through a robust outreach and labor-management program, the forestry industry was able to build strong relationships with the moderate Democrats.

    As climate change became a major issue in Sacramento with progressive Democrats, the timber industry was positioned as a critical component to addressing the problem because young, fast-growing trees rapidly sequester carbon. When the trees mature, new one are planted and the sequestration process continues. There has not been a bill to ban clear-cutting introduced in the legislature in more than a decade.

ADVOCACY

California Biotechnology Foundation: Changing the narrative on prescription drugs from Canada.

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    California Biotechnology Foundation - Changing the narrative on prescription drugs from Canada
    The Majority Leader of the State Assembly introduced legislation that would allow Californians to purchase prescription drugs from Canada, taking advantage of lower drug prices there. The pharmaceutical industry needed to change the narrative and reshape its image with Democrats. An educational and advocacy program was implemented to educate the Legislature about the negative consequences of the proposed legislation on hundreds of burgeoning biotech and pharmaceutical research firms throughout the state. An industry-funded 501(c)(3) biotech foundation was formed to educate legislators on the value of this industry and the lifesaving treatments they create. With site visits to facilities, briefings by researchers on lifesaving drugs in the pipeline, economic impacts on local communities and reports on the loss of high-paying jobs, a different story emerged: that buying Canadian drugs, in fact, seriously hurt Californians in many ways. California law still does not allow the purchase of prescription drugs from Canada or any other country.

AARP: According to the New York Times, a legislative advocacy program that became a national model outstanding legislative results.

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    AARP—A National Model for Senior Advocacy
    One of the highest policy priorities for the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) is to help new generations of workers learn to save for retirement. A key strategy to accomplish this goal is the creation of a government-run automatic-enrollment retirement savings plan for workers whose employers do not offer retirement programs – usually low-wage workers. Rather than try to work with a divided Congress and federal Administration to pass a national ‘work and save’ program, AARP turned to the states, and particularly California, to show the way. A legislative strategy was created for AARP and its lobbying team to win enactment of the Secure Choice Retirement Program (SB 1234 by Senate President Pro Tempore Kevin de Leon). A formidable coalition of engaged supporters was built and the concerns of organized labor and the employer community neutralized. A robust earned media and paid media strategy promoted AARP’s role in advancing the legislation with opinion leaders, AARP members and the general public. SB 1234 passed in one legislative year, with bi-partisan support. The New York Times hailed the bill as “a national model for promoting retirement savings.”

LITIGATION SUPPORT

Dr. Henry Nicholas: Winning the dismissal of high-profile criminal charges.

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    Dr. Henry Nicholas - Winning the dismissal of high-profile criminal charge
    When Dr. Henry Nicholas, the billionaire co-founder of Broadcom Corp., was indicted on more than 20 federal fraud and drug charges, an epic legal and communications battle was joined. A trusted team of advisors led by Bob Magnuson went to work 24/7. A nationwide search brought in renowned D.C. trial lawyer Brendan Sullivan and his team from Williams and Connolly to head up the legal fight. A highly disciplined communications and messaging plan was implemented over the coming months in coordination with the legal strategy. In dismissing all charges, U.S. District Court Judge Cormac Carney, according to the Los Angeles Times, accused “prosecutors of a ‘shameful’ campaign to intimidate witnesses and obtain unjustified convictions.”

Emeco vs. Restoration Hardware: A David vs. Goliath legal victory.

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    Emeco vs. Restoration Hardware - A David vs. Goliath legal victory
    Los Angeles entrepreneur Gregg Buchbinder bought Pennsylvania-based Emeco and set about establishing the company’s aluminum Navy Chair as an international design icon shown in museums around the world. He also gained recognition for Emeco as an American manufacturing success story—a heartland company run like a family operation, with highly skilled local craftspeople making world-class products. Soon, however, knockoffs were being produced abroad and Restoration Hardware began advertising its own Navy chairs at a fraction of the cost of the original. Bob Magnuson launched an aggressive communications and media outreach campaign in coordination with the legal team at Munger Tolles & Olson in San Francisco, who had filed a trademark infringement suit against the global retailer. The suit was settled with Restoration Hardware agreeing to permanently cease sales of the chair and to recycle its existing inventory. AdWeek declared: “Restoration Hardware has raised the white—make that Silver Sage!—flag” in its “shameless rip-off of Emeco’s Navy Chair.”