CLOUT is a regular feature from Beyond November that profiles the pols, pals and pundits who influence the candidates and their campaigns. Have a suggestion for a Clout profile? Send an e-mail to Richard Weiss at email@example.com.
Name: John Hancock
Job: Founder, president John Hancock Associates, a political consulting firm, and its sister firm, Public Pulse Research.
Education: University of Missouri-St. Louis, Rutgers University
Clout: Hancock got hooked on politics as a teenager when he successfully lobbied city officials to preserve Scott Joplin’s home on Delmar Boulevard (he’s a ragtime pianist in his spare time). A former state representative from St. Louis County, Hancock founded his political consulting firm in 2003 after six years as executive director of the Missouri Republican party. He and his firm have been involved in most statewide races since on behalf of Republicans like Matt Blunt, Jim Talent, Kenny Hulshof and Roy Blunt. Most recently he was a strategist for John Brunner, who lost the 2012 U.S. Senate primary to Todd Akin. He’s also served as a fundraiser for the state party, doing campaign management, and special events. His research business does opposition research in 32 states for candidates from local to federal, such as the Carnahan family’s “wind farm” material that was used against Robin Carnahan in 2010; and more recently the income of Claire McCaskill’s husband from federal housing subsidies. “I’m like Johnny Appleseed,” he said of his largely unpublicized research role. “I’m just throwing the seeds down.”
Current campaigns: Shane Schoeller (secretary of state), Ed Martin (attorney general); Ann Wagner (2nd Congressional District).
I know I’ve done a good job when ….: “When we see information we gather used in television ads all over the country.”
Beyond November: “It all depends on who wins. If you’re looking at a second Obama term, the continued expansiveness of the federal government is going to become a very big issue. There could be some opportunities for compromise, particularly on tax policy. Health care is likely to remain a big battleground, no matter who wins. If Romney wins, you’re going to see a lot of legislative reform in Washington, tax reform, spending restraint, and those things are going to become fertile ground for the 2014 election on both sides.”
The (second) presidential debate: “I thought that debate, unlike the first, probably provided sufficient material on both sides to solidify their supporters. I don’t think it’s likely to result in any movement in terms of the polls…. Both performed well enough to keep their folks happy. Romney’s best moment was the exchange on energy; Obama’s best moment was when Candy Crowley interjected herself into the conversation on Libya (and he told her to let Romney proceed).
Biggest political disappointment: John Brunner’s loss in the Senate primary. “I thought he was a unique candidate in Missouri history. He’s probably the only first time candidate for U.S. Senate that I can recall who had a legitimate chance to win. I watched him become a very good candidate throughout the course of his campaign. He would have defeated Claire McCaskill handily if he had won.”
Political hero: Ronald Reagan. Underappreciated hero: Calvin Coolidge. “He was a great president, one of the great conservatives in history.”
Most important race: Presidential. “It’s going to determine what kind of nation the United States is going to be, if it will follow the course of European social democracy or remain a beacon of free enterprise.”
Underrated race: Secretary of State. “When you look at the number of controversies on ballot language under Robin Carnahan … an increasing number of issues are going to the people, and the person who crafts the language is in a very important position.”
Biggest primary surprise: Brunner’s loss. “I went into election night expecting to win.”
Akin/McCaskill prediction: “I think Democrats believe Todd Akin is the only Republican who can’t beat McCaskill; and Republicans think McCaskill is the only Democrat who could lose to Akin. How that all shakes out I can’t say.”