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Friday, August 3, 2007

Political Merger

posted by on August 3 at 11:20 AM

Two local political consultants and their firms—both former young turks, but increasingly the local heavies—Christian Sinderman’s Northwest Passage and Lisa MacLean’s Moxie Media, have been talking about merging.

“One production shop is better than two,” says Moxie partner John Wyble.

Both shops do spin, mailing, and campaign strategy for local and statewide candidates. Sinderman, for example, is the message man for Democratic Speaker of the House Frank Chopp, and he’s currently running city council campaigns for David Della challenger Tim Burgess and city council hopeful Bruce Harrell.

Moxie is currently running city council candidate Venus Valazquez’s campaign against Harrell. Moxie also works with activist union Service Employees International Union, Planned Parenthood, and Emily’s List.

Both firms have also had their hands in national races. Moxie worked on Ned Lamont’s campaign against Joe Lieberman and Sinderman worked for Jon Tester in Montana. (Sinderman rose to prominence in 2000 by helping run Sen. Maria Cantwell’s successful campaign to oust longtime incumbent Sen. Slade Gorton.)

Sinderman is widely viewed as a savvy spin doctor and connected political insider, while Moxie is seen more as a purist production house that stays above the fray.

One thing that could scotch the deal: As a duo, they’d stand to lose thousands of dollars in independent expenditure business. Independent expenditures—political ads on behalf of candidates paid for by PACs and political committees that the candidates themselves aren’t allowed to have any part in—are divvied up by firms like Northwest Passage and Moxie.

If Sinderman, for example, is consulting for a candidate, he can’t simultaneously do an independent expenditure ad for a union that supports that candidate. Now, those ads go to another firm, like Moxie.

Last year, for example, Sinderman ran liberal state Supreme Court Justice Susan Owens’s campaign, while Moxie did the independent expenditures for Citizens to Uphold the Constitution—a group that was pushing for liberal Supreme Court candidates.

If the consultants combine forces, neither one could pick up the lucrative independent expenditure work that spins out of any candidate campaign they’d be working on.

Wyble says the merger, if it happens, wouldn’t happen until next year.

RSS icon Comments


Jesus if they merge why don't every Democratic campaign in Washington state just hand over their bank account information so they can take all the money out directly.

Posted by Jake of | August 3, 2007 11:31 AM

Close your bold tags.

Posted by Mr. Poe | August 3, 2007 11:31 AM

"Moxie is currently running city council candidate Venus Valazquez’s campaign against Harrell."

Well, technically, she's running for an open seat and so is Harell. A subtle distinction, but the way this is worded, it could be read that Harrell is the incumbent. (Yes, I know, picky, picky.)

I think the merger is a bleah idea. Moxie isn't quite as good as Northwest Passage. I'm not sure when they've had a winning campaign last.

Posted by nerd | August 3, 2007 12:33 PM


Hmm, Moxie wins....oh yeah, they helped Rodney Tom beat Luke Esser - that's one hell of a win, right there.

Just sayin.

Posted by Willis | August 3, 2007 12:37 PM

Yeah, Moxie has a great winning record, especially in legislative races.

I don't see why the two firms would merge because of all the lost IE and Democratic primary business. But, they'd be a helluva team. Wyble, McLean and Sinderman are far and away the best in the NW.

Posted by Bill LaBorde | August 3, 2007 1:53 PM

Well color me corrected. Didn't know Moxie worked for Rodney Tom.

Plus, I do understand that consultants need work and can't really choose their clients if they want to stay in business.

Posted by nerd | August 3, 2007 2:17 PM

Moxie only accepts clients that are Washington state Democrats (except Senator Tim Sheldon so technically that is still just Democrats) or aligned with democratic causes. I am just saying if the two firms combined they would almost have an instant lock on the market for Democratic marketing campaign consultants in the state.

Posted by Jake of | August 3, 2007 2:55 PM

Didn't someone at the Stranger refer to Jason Bennett as an up-and-comer recently? Blair's still kind of in the game. Terry Thompson is still doing work, and D.J. Wilson is trying to start his own consulting gig - so I think it's safe to say that they would still have competition. Oh, and I think Cathy Allen is still working.....

Posted by Willis | August 3, 2007 3:10 PM

I think the thing that keeps these firms good independent of each other is just that-- they are independent of each other. I think that each firm has things that they do well and that if you combined them, there would be no competition and no real bid for great campaigns. Sometimes lower level clients are just paying for the privilege of someone's attention-- if the firms merge, where would all the smaller budget clients go?

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