The Real Jerry Brown and Political Campaign Pioneers Whitaker and Baxter Topics of Library Talk

Political Science Professor David McCuan joins Chuck McFadden for a conversation about McFadden's new book entitled Trailblazer: A Biography of Jerry Brown on Oct. 16 at noon in Schulz 3001.

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McFadden, a former Associated Press reporter, will discuss Jerry Brown's legacy. McCuan will address the broader landscape of the environment that the Governor is operating in, over his decades in California politics. Trailblazer is currently available as an eBook at the University Library.

The discussion will also touch on McCuan's work on the "common birth mother" of political campaigning, the highly successful firm called CAMPAIGNS INC., founded in California by husband-and-wife team Clem Whitaker and Leone Baxter.


The talk presents research for a book-length manuscript about these first "political professionals." The firm of CAMPAIGNS, INC. is acknowledged as the first operation of its kind organized as a political consulting firm. However, little is known about the firm and scholarship about the role, impact, and growth of Whitaker Baxter.


"Most coverage of the firm consists of journalistic accounts of campaigns managed by the firm or brief paragraphs," he says. "We know, therefore, little about the substance and pioneering role of Whitaker and Baxter as the firm ushered in a permanent, professional role for political campaign and public affairs consultants."


The firm operated during the heyday of early applied public relations theories where marketing theories joined with election campaigns to generate political advertising. McCuan says "Whitaker and Baxter were iconoclasts who challenged traditional notions of political campaigning and ushered in a new era where politics meets marketing that carries forth even today."


The professor has found that "while true pioneers of 'new campaign techniques,' the firm is poorly understood without much attention devoted to its central role in more than four decades of California and national electoral politics."

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