Political Consultant Kenney ’92 Featured – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
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Political Consultant Kenney ’92 Featured

David Kenney ’92 was featured in an article in the Rocky Mountain News extolling his positive track record as a political consultant in Colorado.

“He’s crafted a string of successful campaign strategies that have earned him a reputation as Colorado’s go-to political adviser,” states the article, which later notes Kenney has “had a huge hand in the political fates of the state’s leaders.”

A number of politicians and political staffers are quoted in the article, noting Kenney’s expertise and crediting him with a number of successes-even an opponent speaks highly of Kenney.

“He’s been tapped to run the 2010 re-election efforts of Gov. Bill Ritter. ‘In politics, there’s no big secret. You just have to work really hard, and David works really hard. He works until he gets it right,” said Jim Carpenter, Ritter’s chief of staff. “I’m a huge fan of David’s. He’s enormously talented because he understands people and understands politics.'”

Kenney graduated from Hobart College with a B.A. in history. He played defense for the Statesmen lacrosse team and was a member of three NCAA championship teams in his four years.

The full article about his career follows.


Rocky Mountain News
A Regular party guy
Joanne Kelley • February 2, 2009

Democrats looking to get elected or get a ballot measure passed in Colorado call David Kenney. A look at his record tells you why.

When Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper jumped out of an airplane to promote a 2005 ballot measure, it was a young political consultant who convinced him to go back up and do it again.

“He told me, ‘It could have been a great TV ad, but there’s a shadow on your face . . . and we did pay for a second jump,’ ” recalls Hickenlooper, who claims to be terrified of heights.

Not many people can tell a mayor what to do, but David Kenney has made a career out of doing just that with Hickenlooper and any number of other high-ranking officials. He’s crafted a string of successful campaign strategies that have earned him a reputation as Colorado’s go-to political adviser.

Speaking by cell phone from the Washington reception for the newly sworn-in U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, the 38-year-old political strategist was self-deprecating.

“I’m just one of many people (working on campaigns), and it’s been an honor to be able to do it,” Kenney said. “I’ve played an infinitessimally small role.”

But Hickenlooper, a Democrat who got into the mayoral race late in the game, credits Kenney for the strategy that led to his long-shot victory. The former brewer asked Kenney to advise him on his 2003 campaign after discovering Kenney hadn’t signed on yet with another political candidate.

Kenney said he volunteered his services to elect the relatively unknown Hickenlooper, proving “I’m not a very good businessman either.”

Political family
He got his start in the business working for longtime political consultant Jim Monaghan and opened his own firm in 2003. The Kenney Group now has 11 employees and also handles lobbying and public relations for a variety of clients.

Kenney’s name and profession appear on his alma mater’s Web site under the heading, “What can you do with a history major?” along with alumni who became lawyers, journalists, professors and even one who became a bodyguard to actor Al Pacino.

Family ties in the Northeast led Kenney to a liberal arts education at Hobart College in Geneva, N.Y., a relatively small private school with a powerhouse lacrosse team. Kenney played defense on three NCAA championship teams during his time there.

Kenney grew up in a political family. His great-grandfather was a founder of the Colorado Contractors Association, his grandfather served as president of the Denver Water Board. Mary Michael Cook, the former director of the state revenue department in Republican Gov. Bill Owens’ administration, is his aunt.

Kenney and his wife, Mary, have two children. Daughter Caitlin, 7, and son Aidan, 5, have already proved themselves to be “little political junkies,” Kenney said.
On the morning after Election Day in 2004, Caitlin jumped onto her parents’ bed and said, “Oh Daddy, I’m sorry. (Democratic presidential nominee) John Kerry lost, but FasTracks won.”

Governor’s re-election
The member of the family most put out by Kenney’s work schedule, which often requires long days, weekends and travel, is a black Labrador retriever named Bailey.

“I have a hunting dog who’s about to leave me because I haven’t taken him hunting,” Kenney said. “If I put on a suit, he puts his head in his paws and sighs heavily.”

As for whether Kenney has any political aspirations himself, he says: “No, God no. I’m unelectable.”

But he has had a huge hand in the political fates of the state’s leaders.
He’s been tapped to run the 2010 re-election efforts of Gov. Bill Ritter.

“In politics, there’s no big secret. You just have to work really hard, and David works really hard. He works until he gets it right,” said Jim Carpenter, Ritter’s chief of staff. “I’m a huge fan of David’s. He’s enormously talented because he understands people and understands politics.”

Among Kenney’s few misses: last year’s effort by Ritter to end a tax credit for oil and gas companies through a ballot initiative known as Amendment 58.
He was outspent “3-to-1” by the opposing side, Carpenter said.

Even Kenney’s opponent admitted the lopsided funding was an issue.
“He didn’t have the money,” said Rick Reiter, who handled the campaign that defeated the measure. “I love David, and this is a business where it’s tough to have a lot of close friends for a long time. If you’re successful at this, over time you’re going to be on opposite sides of the same issue.” Reiter and Kenney have a tradition of calling to wish one another luck on Election Day.

As for Kenney’s reputation: “David has turned into Goliath,” Reiter said. “He’s the hottest thing in Colorado right now. “You can’t be that big and be invisible.”

David Kenney is one of Colorado’s most sought-after political consultants.A partial campaign client list
* Former Denver Mayor Wellington Webb
* Mayor John Hickenlooper
* Ken Salazar (first run for U.S. Senate)
* President Barack Obama (served on national finance committee and as an adviser to Obama’s Colorado campaign)
* Gov. Bill Ritter’s re-election bid
* U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet’s prospective 2010 campaign
Some of Kenney’s political home runs . . .
* FasTracks sales tax increase in 2004
* Downtown jail and court complex approval in 2005
* Hotel room tax boost in 2005 to pay for marketing the city to convention planners and potential vacationers
* Denver bond issues in 2007 that increased taxes in Denver for improvements in everything from parks to libraries
* A 2007 tax increase to make preschool available to more Denver kids
. . . and strikeouts
* Extending statewide tourism tax (early 1990s)
* Gaming at Colorado racetracks (2003 ballot measure)
* Ending oil and gas company tax credit (2008 ballot measure)