In January 2008, she went to her first cottage meeting and met Jason Chaffetz, a long-shot running against a 12-year incumbent. The day after that first cottage meeting, she went to another one at the Chaffetz home. This one was for people who wanted to sign up and become volunteers. She decided she could make phone calls in Spanish Fork.
A couple of short weeks later, she was asked to be in charge of all of Utah county. She held that position until Chaffetz left convention with over 59% of the vote and she then became the political director.
She did a little of everything on the campaign – and learned a lot. She learned to write press releases, to do media outreach, to schedule and to speak for her candidate. She feels she grew into her role as political director and was mentored by campaign manager, Jennifer Scott who worked hand-in-hand with her. Her campaign office was her laundry room and she juggled campaign and family while she worked from home as much as possible.
The day after the 2008 election, she and her husband, Gabe were sitting in Congressman-elect Chaffetz’ office and she learned that Jennifer Scott was going to become the district director. Chaffetz asked her to be his campaign manager for the 2012 cycle.
She looked at him and said “Jason, that’s like asking a woman the day after she gives birth if she’ll do it again the next day. I need some time.” A few days later, she told him she would do it.
Now almost two full years later she runs the entire political operation. That includes building and maintaining relationships, working with party leadership, voters, and delegates, writing, coordinating events, fundraising and even speaking for him if he is unable to be at an event. She also spends many hours answering emails and returning phone calls from concerned citizens. She is known locally and nationally and has consulted on dozens of campaigns. She has valuable skills and loves what she does – all because she was willing to get to work on making a difference.
Deidre will be addressing the Utah GOP Women’s Leadership Summit later today about becoming a political consultant (aka transferring the volunteer position you love into a paid position you love).
She has some tips for people wanting to make that transition. First and foremost, you must “pay your dues”. You can’t just jump in cold turkey and expect to be making big bucks with no experience. Deidre feels it is essential that you believe in a cause, that you are dependable and that you realize that you will spend a lot of time working for little or no money before people are willing to hire you. (And when that finally does happen, it still probably won’t be for big bucks.)
Of course, being a campaign manager is not the only option for a paying job within the political world. Find your niche. Do what you’re good at and what you love. It is important to realize no one is good at everything. Good leaders know to surround themselves by those who are strong in areas they are weak.
Deidre still works from her laundry room. “Technology has made it possible for me to do what I do.” she said. Politics is addicting. It’s not a 9-5 proposition – it’s always there, there is always more to be done, so she makes a concerted effort to find time for family by taking a few hours off when her kids come home from school and as much as possible, takes the weekends off. In the end, being involved in politics really is all about our families and the world we will leave them.