David Contarino on the Keys to Professional Strategy

David ContarinoDavid Contarino has a long career in the public and private sector stretching over two decades. He has served as manager, senior advisor and media consultant in several political campaigns. In 2002, David Contarino served as campaign manager and Chief of Staff for New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, and was a senior strategist and consultant for Congresswoman Michelle Grisham’s 2012 successful campaign.

Q: What drew you to political consulting?

David Contarino: I was fascinated by politics at a fairly early age, but I was determined to conduct politics on my own terms. It’s a tough game—tough on individuals and on families, and often all-consuming.

Q: Can you explain what you mean by conducting politics on your own terms?

David Contarino: Well, too many political consultants only know one thing, and that’s politics. Same thing for the people they work for. I’ve been successful as a consultant, but it was never my only career.

Q: So your real-world experience has given you insights into political consulting?

David Contarino: Absolutely. My past experience keeps me in touch with the way most people live their everyday lives, something too many politicians lose sight of. I’ve had an active, successful career in real estate, including land development, title and escrow work, commercial and residential real estate investing, landlord and property management. For many consultants and campaign managers, politics can be unrewarding. Lots of time and energy, and very little pay at the back end of it. Downright punishing, really.   My other commercial interests give me flexibility that a lot of consultants and politicians don’t have.

Q: I can see how that would provide some real perspective.

David Contarino: It does indeed. Too many politicians can’t see past the next election cycle, and too many consultants only work during election years. I never wanted that—I wanted to be engaged with my wife and my family and to not have to rely on the political game as my entire career. This way I can focus on and pursue only the things—candidates and issues—that truly interest me in politics.  Finally, I believe it makes me a better consultant.  I don’t live in Washington or live in a purely political environment.  I understand the real world and I think that makes me a smarter strategist.