Barry Bennett isn’t like most consultants. One look at his resume will tell you that. He has jobs like “pastry chef,” “motorcycle tour operator” and “talk show host” in his past, but that doesn’t change the fact that he is one of our most talented and savvy operatives.
Although Barry officially joined the team in 2019, he has been working with VE team members since 2002 and has been involved in significant races across Missouri and Montana. In 2002, he was part of the team that flipped the Missouri House from decades of democrat control to a Republican majority. Barry describes that election night as one of the highlights of his life (after marrying his wife Sheila, of course.)
“I was standing in the back of the room and heard it announced that Jim Talent had won his Senate seat. Our efforts to flip the Missouri Legislature to Republican control had succeeded. I’ve been a part of many election wins…but that was a political earthquake,” Barry said, remembering the historic night. “That was a big night for us.”
Barry’s first day in politics wasn’t full of victories and celebrations though. It was phone calls and writing, research, and data collection. When many people think about campaigns, they usually visualize the excitement of winning and the cool moments on the trail when you make a great speech and get lots of attention; but Barry cautions clients not to get hung up on those things. Campaigns are hard work.
“It’s good work, but it’s nothing romantic,” says Bennett. “Candidates need to remember that the majority of the campaign is a grind, but that’s what makes the big moments possible.”
While his path to a career in political strategy is unusual, it may be the greatest tool in his chest. “I have a lot of the same experience as many of our candidates so I understand where they’re coming from. I also owned a small business and experienced how red tape and unfair tax burdens made it harder to succeed.” Barry owned a restaurant for a while and worked as a contractor. Shared values and experience help him handle the concerns and backgrounds of clients more effectively.
Although he has worked extensively in many states, Barry and his wife always intended to return to Montana and build their life (and off-grid cabin!) there. He enjoys the people of the state and believes in the progress many of their electeds are making. “The attacks on the 2nd Amendment and capitalism in this country are real and must be fought. I admire the history of the Republican party here in Montana and its work to keep this state on the right side of history and the constitution. It’s an honor to help with that.”
Barry got his start in politics by putting out yard signs for Jimmy Carter in 1976, but in 1984, he worked for Reagan. In his words “I stopped listening and started thinking.”
Ever since, he has been a machine in conservative politics. While running for office himself isn’t off the table, he loves the work of campaigns. “I feel that I can have more impact on the process by helping dozens of good people fight for their elections,” says Barry. “All armies need good sergeants, not just generals.”
His top advice for candidates he works with? “Practice your speeches and answers every time you’re alone and never fool yourself into thinking you’re good enough.” Barry has watched too many clients get overconfident and mess up their delivery. “Practice everything. You’ll look better for it and feel more capable when the time comes. Also, don’t drink out of water bottles at events. Use a cup.”
In a rapidly changing landscape for political campaigns, it is more important than ever for serious candidates to have someone in their corner. “Candidates need to have a sounding board and a voice of reason and experience. This business is science blended with art. And having a full-service company like Victory Enterprises brings all the elements together under one roof. We have all of the abilities and expertise of a huge political firm but without the stuffiness and expense. I’m very proud to bring our philosophy and expertise to Montana.”
If you’re looking for serious experience on your side in 2020, reach out to Montana State Director Barry Bennett at firstname.lastname@example.org