- Fall 2016
"Over 30 years in campaign politics, I’ve never experienced a cycle quite like this one. This is a watershed campaign cycle that has broken all the rules of political gravity. The opportunity to observe, analyze and help explain the final stretch with the Harvard community is an honor. I am looking forward to joining my colleagues for what promises to be a valuable and stimulating experience."
For thirty years, David Kochel has been in the trenches of GOP campaign politics. Getting his start in 1984 as a field staffer to Iowa legislative campaigns, Kochel has held just about every job in politics. An inside participant in six presidential campaigns, Kochel has maintained his home in Iowa. Most recently, Kochel served as the senior strategist to the Jeb Bush campaign. He joined the team in early February, 2015, drafting the campaign plan, recruiting senior staff, and managing the effort prior to Bush’s launch in June. In October 2015, Kochel was diagnosed with leukemia, and immediately began seven months of intensive chemotherapy. Throughout treatment at MD Anderson in Houston, Kochel continued to lead the early state teams and participate in campaign strategy, limiting travel and work hours to accommodate a successful battle against cancer. He is currently in remission and finished chemotherapy in May.
Prior to 2016, Kochel spent ten years working in and around Gov. Mitt Romney’s political network, providing direct mail in the 2002 Massachusetts governor’s race, helping launch Commonwealth PAC in 2004, and leading Gov. Romney’s Iowa effort in 2008 and 2012. His firm, Redwave Communications, provided voter contact services in a half dozen swing states in the general election.
For Romney, Kochel designed the “all-in” strategy that failed in Iowa in 2008. Never one to quit, in 2012 he developed and implemented the “let’s try that again” strategy that allowed Gov. Romney to successfully navigate the tricky expectations of the Iowa starting gate. After months of avoiding Iowa in 2011, Governor Romney barnstormed through the Hawkeye state in the closing weeks, winning the caucuses by a whopping eight votes — the closest in history.
In 2014, Kochel was a key strategist and early backer of US Sen. Joni Ernst, organizing her debate prep and earned media message, beating better-funded primary and general election opponents.
David Kochel is a part-time pundit and full-time practitioner of campaign politics. Over the years, he and his firm have consulted with the Republican National Committee and other national GOP committees, and designed voter contact campaigns for candidates, third party groups, and corporate clients in more than 30 states.