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Joe Trippi (born June 10, 1956) is a long-time American Democratic campaign worker and consultant. A mainstay in presidential politics, Trippi has worked on the presidential campaigns of Edward Kennedy, Walter Mondale, Gary Hart, Dick Gephardt, Jerry Brown and most recently John Edwards. Most notably, he served as campaign manager for presidential candidate and former Vermont governor Howard Dean.
After working in several successful local elections in San Jose, California, in the mid-1970s Trippi joined the national campaign staff of Senator Edward Kennedy's presidential campaign in 1979.
In 1981, at the age of 24, Trippi was the Deputy Campaign Manager for Mayor Tom Bradley's successful reelection bid in Los Angeles and in 1982 was Bradley's Statewide Deputy Campaign Manager for Governor of California. In 1983 Trippi served in government for his first and only time, becoming Lieutenant Governor Leo McCarthy's Deputy Chief of Staff in Sacramento.
Still in his 20s in 1983 Trippi joined the campaign staff of Vice President Walter Mondale—first as the state director of Maine where he was credited with engineering a come-from-behind victory at the 1983 state convention for Mondale—earning him a promotion to state director of Iowa's first in the nation caucuses. After running Iowa for Mondale and winning the state by over 30 points Trippi went on to run the Pennsylvania primary effort for Mondale. Mondale defeated Gary Hart in Pennsylvania by 14 points.
In 1985 Trippi became the deputy director of the Fund for a Democratic Majority, Senator Edward Kennedy's political action committee run by Paul Tully. Tully, along with Mike Ford, had been Trippi's superior in the Kennedy and Mondale campaigns. Bob Shrum was chairman of the Fund for a Democratic Majority. In mid-1985 Bob Shrum resigned to launch the media firm of Caddell, Doak and Shrum, and recruited Trippi to be the firm's vice president. The firm quickly became Doak and Shrum, and Trippi helped produce the media and strategy for several successful gubernatorial and U.S. Senate campaigns, including those of Virginia Governor Jerry Baliles, Senator Alan Cranston of California, Senator Barbara Mikulski of Maryland, Pennsylvania Governor Bob Casey. Shrum has credited Trippi for his creative work in conceiving and producing the "Zschau's Greatest Hits" television spot in 1986 for Cranston's campaign.
Trippi left the firm of Doak and Shrum in 1987 when Paul Tully, who had become Senator Gary Hart's political director, recruited Trippi to become Hart's deputy political director. After the Miami Herald broke the story of Gary Hart and Donna Rice, Trippi became chief of staff to Hart's wife, Lee Hart. After Gary Hart withdrew from the race, Trippi became the national deputy campaign manager for the Gephardt For President campaign and is credited with the "Hyundai" ad in Iowa that catapulted Gephardt from last place in most polls to winning the Iowa caucuses.
By the end of the 1988 presidential campaign cycle/ Trippi had become largely disenchanted with the process of politics. He would appear only in cameo roles in the Doug Wilder and Jerry Brown campaigns in 1992, but even in these less-engaged roles, he managed to, along with Joe Costello, introduce the successful interactive use of the 800 number in politics for the first time. (Brown would raise $8 million in 1992 from citizens contributing by calling an 800 number promoted in television ads and during televised debates.)
Trippi withdrew from presidential politics completely for the remainder of 1992, as well as in 1996 and 2000. In the 1990s, he worked as a media consultant for several campaigns, including Jim Moran's 1990 victory over Republican Stan Parris in Virginia's 8th Congressional District and Marjorie Margolies-Mezvinsky's 1992 win in Pennsylvania's 13th Congressional District, which had not been won by a Democrat since 1904. Trippi produced the media for Ron Wyden's successful bid for Oregon's US Senate seat to replace disgraced Senator Bob Packwood in a special election.
The Wyden camp had developed a very rudimentary website with the ability to gather volunteer information and accept donations. Ironically, Trippi refused to include the URL in the TV commercials, claiming, "No one knows what 'www' means". Trippi also worked for John Kitzhaber's two successful runs for Governor of Oregon. In 2002 five Democratic members of congress were redistricted into Republican majority districts held by an incumbent Republican member of congress. Trippi produced the media and strategy for Pennsylvania Congressman Tim Holden, the only Democrat of the five to win in the double-incumbent races. During this time, Trippi also got reengaged with one of his first loves from his college days in Silicon Valley technology.
Trippi began to serve as a corporate consultant in Silicon Valley to firms involved in e-commerce, online communities, and the open source movement, straddling the two worlds of politics and technology for many years. As early as 1982 he personally purchased a DEC computer and installed it in Tom Bradley's gubernatorial campaign to track targeted voter files and build a contributor database. This effort is believed to be the most advanced use of computers by a campaign at the time, if not the first actual instance of such use. In 2003 Trippi went to work for Dean For America as Howard Dean's National Campaign Manager.
Until spring 2004, Trippi was a principal at the political consulting firm Trippi, McMahon & Squier, which produced advertisements for Dean's gubernatorial and presidential campaigns.
Trippi currently heads the consulting firm Trippi & Associates. In the 2006 cycle, he produced the media for John Hall's victory in New York's 19th Congressional District and for Jerry Brown's successful bid for Attorney General of California.
Over the years, Trippi has been involved in various political campaigns overseas. He worked for then Panhellenic Socialist Movement leader Andreas Papandreou's successful campaign for Prime Minister of Greece in 1993 and advised British Prime Minister Tony Blair during his successful bid for a third term in 2005. He also worked on behalf of Romano Prodi in his successful bid for Prime Minister of Italy in 2006.
The Dean campaign, and Trippi specifically, became widely acclaimed for the innovative use of the Internet, especially for fundraising. In particular, Trippi was largely responsible for the creation of an official campaign blog, and the use of Meetup and other social networking technologies to connect supporters. Both techniques are widely utilized today by other social and political campaigns.
Trippi was a key voice in the Dean campaign's decision to forgo the use of federal matching funds for the Democratic presidential nomination, a move intended to help escape the fundraising limits the matching funds brought. The decision prompted eventual nomination winner John Kerry to follow suit and allow his campaign to remain financially competitive with Bush in the months leading up to the convention.
Dean replaced Trippi as campaign manager on January 28, 2004 after consecutively losing the Iowa caucus and the New Hampshire primary. Trippi subsequently signed on as a commentator for MSNBC; and started his own consultancy, Trippi & Associates. As of 2009, he is a political contributor for Fox News.
In 2006, Trippi produced the media and served as a consultant to John Hall in his winning bid for New York's 19th Congressional seat and for Jerry Brown's winning campaign for Attorney General of California.
Trippi has worked closely with Mike Ford, Paul Tully, and John Sasso over the years. He is the author of The Revolution Will Not Be Televised: Democracy, the Internet, and the Overthrow of Everything.
On April 19, 2007, Trippi announced that he would serve as a Senior Advisor for John Edwards's Presidential campaign. Joe Trippi & Associates were paid $750,000 over the course of the Edwards campaign.
Joe Trippi is also a fellow at the New Politics Institute, a think tank of the New Democrat Network, founded by Simon Rosenberg in 1996. Its stated purpose is to help elect centrist Democrats, and it is considered by many to be a successor to the centrist Democratic Leadership Council (DLC), an organization that Simon Rosenberg resigned from in 1996. (Rosenberg was one of Howard Dean's rivals for the chairmanship of the Democratic National Committee in 2005.)
Trippi is a member of the advisory board of Why Tuesday?, a nonpartisan organization dedicated to increasing voter participation. Trippi is also a member of the board of directors for the conservation organization the Eastern Shore Land Conservancy.
In late January 2010, Andrew Romanoff, who challenged the incumbent Senator Michael Bennet in the 2010 Colorado Senate election, announced his campaign had hired Trippi as one of its four new, prominent consultants.
In the California gubernatorial election, 2010 Trippi produced the media, television, radio and social media for Jerry Brown's campaign for Governor of California, and Brown defeated Meg Whitman. Trippi also produced the media for Congressman Tim Holden's re-election in Pennsylvania's 17th District. Holden was one of the few Democrats running in a district that had been won by John McCain in 2008 to win re-election in 2010.
In October 2010, Trippi appeared in the CBS drama "The Good Wife" as himself.
Currently, Trippi works as a Democratic Strategist and Fox News Consultant.
During the Zimbabwe presidential elections in 2008, Trippi worked with opposition candidate Morgan Tsvangirai in his campaign against Robert Mugabe. Tsvangirai secured more votes in the first round of the election, but due to an outbreak in violence and intimidation by the Mugabe regime, he decided to pull out of the runoff vote. In the months that followed, an agreement was reached to form a unity government.
In an interview with MSNBC, Zimbabwean opposition activist Roy Bennett, who had been arrested and jailed by the Mugabe government, credited Joe Trippi with helping to ensure his release by increasing international pressure on Mugabe.
In 2011, Trippi signed on to work in Bahrain following the government's violent repression of protests by Shia citizens during the Arab Spring. According to documents filed with the United States Department of Justice, Trippi's work focused on social and political reform measures in the country following the recommendations of an outside panel of human rights experts called the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry.
Trippi also successfully urged the Bahrain government to grant retrials in civil court to doctors who had previously been tried in military court.
During that time, the US government encouraged steps such as the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry to help move toward reform and accountability. In an address to the United Nations, President Obama called on both the government and the opposition to engage in meaningful reform.
Trippi ended his work in Bahrain in April 2012, following the report of Bahrain's National Commission, which was tasked with following up on the recommendations of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry.
He currently resides on the Eastern Shore of Maryland with his wife Kathleen Lash. He has three children from a previous marriage: Christine Marie Trippi (born 1986), James Ellis Trippi (born 1988) and Ted Casey Trippi (born 1991).