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Politically Speaking: Cardetti Climbs From 'Lowest Low Man On Totem Pole' To Top Consultant

Jason Rosenbaum, St. Louis Public Radio

Politically Speaking continues its interviews with Missouri’s most prominent behind-the-scenes players. St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies speak this week with “the pride of St. James,” aka political consultant Jack Cardetti. 

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The Phelps County native has served in two gubernatorial administrations, most recently as Gov. Jay Nixon’s communications director. He was also the chief spokesman for the Missouri Democratic Party in the mid- to late 2000s. He now works as a consultant for Tightline Strategies.

Cardetti – who shares the honorable distinction of being a Vox Magazine “30 Under 30” recipient the same year as Rosenbaum – is currently working on a high-stakes ballot initiative to raise the state’s sales tax to fund transportation projects. He’s also worked on successful statewide campaigns for Nixon and Secretary of State Jason Kander.

On the show, Cardetti said:

  • He started as the “lowest low man on the totem pole” working for Nixon when he was attorney general. Cardetti also worked in Gov. Bob Holden’s administration.
  • When he served as communications director for the Missouri Democratic Party, the state’s political parties were arguably more powerful. That’s because candidates operated under strict campaign finance limits, but political parties had looser strictures. “A lot of the organizing both on the political side, but also on the message side, was coordinated directly through the party,” he said.
  • The transportation tax brings together groups often in conflict with one another, such as business groups and organized labor. He also said the measure showcased the GOP-controlled legislature can tackle tough issues.
  • Nixon and former U.S. Sen. Kit Bond, a Republican, are two Missouri politicians who have a “brand” in the state. Cardetti suggested that Nixon would be more interested in transitioning to  an “executive branch” position, such as a federal cabinet appointment.
  • State Rep. John Wright, D-Rocheport, and St. Louis Treasurer Tishaura Jones are the “rising stars” within the Democratic Party.

Follow Jo Mannies on Twitter@jmannies

Follow Jason Rosenbaum on Twitter@jrosenbaum

Follow Jack Cardetti on Twitter: @jackcardetti

Jason is the politics correspondent for St. Louis Public Radio.
Jo Mannies has been covering Missouri politics and government for almost four decades, much of that time as a reporter and columnist at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She was the first woman to cover St. Louis City Hall, was the newspaper’s second woman sportswriter in its history, and spent four years in the Post-Dispatch Washington Bureau. She joined the St. Louis Beacon in 2009. She has won several local, regional and national awards, and has covered every president since Jimmy Carter. She scared fellow first-graders in the late 1950s when she showed them how close Alaska was to Russia and met Richard M. Nixon when she was in high school. She graduated from Valparaiso University in northwest Indiana, and was the daughter of a high school basketball coach. She is married and has two grown children, both lawyers. She’s a history and movie buff, cultivates a massive flower garden, and bakes banana bread regularly for her colleagues.

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