Election Day in Campaign Bootcamp

By: Jessica Cuevas

In wrapping the up the 2021 Annette Strauss Campaign Bootcamp, we had the opportunity to hear from two final speakers—Crystal Perkins, a Democratic finance director, and Dustin Tropp, a Republican recruitment manager—to discuss and advise us on how to build our resumes and land a job in the industry.

To begin, Ms. Perkins spoke to the importance of being involved in the community in any way possible, be it through volunteerism or internships, so long as we are giving back and supporting a cause that we believe in. She suggested doing internships, following local media (newspaper, radio, and social media), and finding a mentor.


After their presentations, they opened the floor to questions about resumes or campaigns. A fellow participant asked if a resume should be nonpartisan or not. Both responded by saying that when applying for a campaign, they would prefer it list all your experiences while only going into depth about one or two to keep the resume at the preferred length of one page. This, of course, only applies to jobs with partisan employers.

Then came Mr. Tropp, who reiterated the importance of being involved, but also emphasized that we must learn how to advocate for ourselves. He mentioned how fellow Generation Z’ers must learn how to hold a conversation with the more experienced and older colleagues since it is a big deal breaker when trying to become more involved in politics.

At last came the moment we were all awaiting: it was time to film our pitch with our teams. Although we were all vying for first place, the experience gained from this event is a win on its own, as it will be applicable and extremely beneficial in our future academic and career paths.

The Campaign Pitch

With the exception of Quinn Kobrin, all of us found ourselves stretched–in a good way–by the Campaign Bootcamp. As our advisors mentioned, we drank water from a firehose, and on Saturday night and Sunday, we tried to assimilate the information, process it, and re-present it in a way that would work for our candidate.

By “our candidate,” we are referring to a hypothetical candidate assigned to each team by NPF staff. NPF created competing candidates, and it was a matter of chance which team got which candidate. By having both hypothetical candidates running for the same position, at the same time, over the same jurisdiction, the teams had very nearly identical tasks. The difference in outcomes, then, are the result of the team’s creativity, incorporation of knowledge learned at bootcamp, dedication of time and energy, and intelligence.

We began with something close to 45 or so participants, but by Sunday, we suspect there were more like half that, divided among six teams (we’d like to note that all four SHSU students stayed on camera, were present for every presentation, and all made at least one comment or asked a question).

Although we all began on different teams, Quinn and Jessica ended up on one team, and Yvette and Jade ended up on another team. We each, however, had time allocated to working and studying on our own, while also working dually and having breakout sessions with our entire teams.

Our presentations, which were filmed on Zoom, incorporated an overview, our team members, our fundraising strategies, the issues we would emphasize, our branding/marketing, a campaign strategy grid, and the like. Although we had been provided much of this information over the previous twenty-four hours, it was certainly different thinking of these things on our own and applying them to a different scenario!

We learned much, not only about campaigns, but also ourselves. It’s one thing, for example, to hear guidelines and understand them in the abstract; it’s another thing to put those to a test in a (simulated) real-world scenario. We also learned about our strengths and weaknesses with regard to attention spans, engaging and speaking up when in sessions; and working with team members, not all of whom put forth the same amount of effort. This, of course, is true of every enterprise, and this fact makes the experience all the more valuable.

Our goal was to get the presentation together by Saturday night…

… and then do the filming Sunday afternoon.

This worked pretty well, and we were able, in our separate rooms, to do our portion of the filming.

Notes, tissues (for allergies, not tears….), coffee, phones, water, and more coffee were called for and on hand.

In the end, all of us would have liked to have added to or changed aspects of our presentation, but all also felt as though we had done the best we could in the time allotted and with the energy we had.

Campaign Bootcamp – Final Thoughts

By: Jade Jones

And just like that, day three of the 2021 New Politics Forum Campaign Bootcamp is complete. This was my very first event with LEAP, and I am more than ecstatic to say that I had an amazing experience. Every day was filled with a plethora of advice and  information from keynote speakers such as Judge Cyndi Krier and many campaign managerial specialists like Meagan Gardner.

Gardner’s comments of “Run for something one day!” and “Campaigns are really hard but they are fun!” resonated with me throughout the entirety of the bootcamp as I, equipped with newfound campaign management skills, was placed in a position to manage my own campaign through the weekend.

My experience was also shaped by keynote speaker Secretary Julián Castro. He tailored his speech towards the younger demographic of individuals that are coming into politics. He made me feel as though he understood the challenges faced by young, aspiring politicians such as dealing with feelings of uncertainty and doubt.

While my experience was shaped by Secretary Castro, the other ambassadors enjoyed a wide range of our speakers, including fundraising expert, Nancy Bocskor. Bocskor’s presentation about the art and technique of fundraising was consistently engaging and informative, and will be extremely beneficial to us in the future.

One of the most memorable moments was the unexpected twist of Nancy’s battling cats, during which a pair of scissors may or may not have been thrown.

Overall, this weekend was incredibly educational and extremely enjoyable. We would like to extend our sincere thanks to Cole Wilson, Bianca Solis, and the rest of the team at the New Politics Forum, for once again putting on a successful Campaign Bootcamp. We appreciate the effort they put into bringing in the top professional political minds from all over the country, and every year we look forward to learning something new.

Author: mikeyawn

Mike Yawn teaches at Sam Houston State University. In the past few years, he has taught courses on Politics & Film, Public Policy, the Presidency, Media & Politics, Congress, Statistics, Research & Writing, Field Research, and Public Opinion. He has published academic papers in the Journal of Politics, Political Behavior, Social Security Quarterly, Film & History, American Politics Review, and contributed a chapter to the textbook Politics and Film. He also contributes columns, news analysis, and news stories to newspapers such as the Houston Chronicle, San Antonio Express News, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Stamford Advocate, Greenwich Time, Huron Daily Tribune, Laredo Morning Times, Beaumont Enterprise, Connecticut Post, and Midland Reporter Telegram. Yawn is also active in his local community, serving on the board of directors of the local YMCA and Friends of the Wynne. Previously, he served on the Huntsville's Promise and Stan Musial World Series Boards of Directors. In 2007-2008, Yawn was one of eight scholars across the nation named as a Carnegie Civic Engagement Scholar by the Carnegie Foundation.

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