The Impact of Campaign Managers on Political Races in Los Angeles County

In the dynamic political landscape of Los Angeles County, the role of a campaign manager can often be the deciding factor in the success or failure of a political campaign. Over the past two decades, several high-profile races in the region have highlighted how effective campaign management can turn the tide in competitive elections.

Key Examples of Influential Campaign Management

1. Karen Bass vs. Rick Caruso – Los Angeles Mayoral Race (2022)

The recent Los Angeles mayoral race between Karen Bass and Rick Caruso is a prime example of how strategic campaign management can influence the outcome of a race. Bass, a seasoned politician, and Caruso, a billionaire businessman, both faced significant challenges in restoring voter confidence amid widespread discontent with local governance. The success of their campaigns hinged heavily on the strategies implemented by their respective campaign managers. For Bass, focusing on her community activism and experience, while Caruso’s team emphasized his business acumen and outsider status, proved crucial in swaying undecided voters.

2. Assembly District 43 – Laura Friedman vs. Ardy Kassakhian (2016)

The Assembly District 43 race showcased how external support and strategic campaign management could influence outcomes. Laura Friedman’s campaign, managed by Parke Skelton, effectively navigated unexpected financial support from pro-charter groups, while countering negative attacks that attempted to link her to controversial figures. Despite the heavy spending against her, Friedman’s team maintained focus on her legislative record and community ties, which ultimately helped her secure a win.

3. Los Angeles County District Attorney Race – George Gascón vs. Jackie Lacey (2020)

In the 2020 race for Los Angeles County District Attorney, George Gascón’s campaign manager played a crucial role in his victory over incumbent Jackie Lacey. Gascón’s campaign focused on progressive criminal justice reforms, which resonated with a significant portion of the electorate. His campaign manager effectively harnessed grassroots support and leveraged social media to amplify Gascón’s message, contrasting it with Lacey’s perceived status quo approach.

4. Recall Election of Governor Gray Davis (2003)

The recall election of Governor Gray Davis was a landmark event in California politics, with campaign manager Dave Gilliard at the helm of the effort to replace Davis. Gilliard’s strategic planning and execution of the recall campaign, including mobilizing grassroots support and coordinating with media outlets, were instrumental in the successful recall and the election of Arnold Schwarzenegger as governor.

5. Los Angeles Unified School District Board Races

The Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) board races have frequently been battlegrounds where the effectiveness of campaign managers has been on full display. Endorsements from powerful groups like United Teachers Los Angeles often bring significant financial and volunteer support. In these races, campaign managers who can effectively leverage these resources and navigate the complex political landscape of education policy often secure victories for their candidates.

The Role of a Campaign Manager

A campaign manager in Los Angeles County must navigate a complex array of challenges, including media scrutiny, voter sentiment, and significant opposition funding. Key responsibilities include:

  • Strategic Planning: Crafting a comprehensive campaign plan that addresses key voter concerns and highlights the candidate’s strengths.
  • Fundraising and Budget Management: Ensuring the campaign has the financial resources needed and that funds are used efficiently.
  • Media and Communications: Managing the campaign’s message across various platforms, handling crises, and ensuring consistent and positive media coverage.
  • Voter Outreach: Developing and executing strategies to engage with voters directly, through events, canvassing, and digital platforms.


The success of political campaigns in Los Angeles County often hinges on the effectiveness of the campaign manager. Through strategic planning, efficient resource management, and adept handling of media relations, campaign managers can significantly influence the outcomes of elections. The races mentioned highlight the pivotal role these professionals play in navigating the political landscape and securing electoral victories.

For candidates in Los Angeles County, choosing an experienced and strategic campaign manager can make the difference between a successful campaign and a missed opportunity. As demonstrated in recent races, the quality of campaign management is a critical component of political success in this region.

For more detailed information on past elections and the impact of campaign managers, you can explore the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk’s election results and the profiles of experienced campaign managers.