Conventional Wisdom

Ryan Haggerty

Some people have found this year’s presidential campaign to betoo long, too petty and too negative. But two recent Northwesterngraduates have found something else on the campaign trail –jobs.

Madhuri Kommareddi, Weinberg ’04, and Kimberly Mosser, Medill’04, built on their previous political activism, traveling to theirrespective parties’ national conventions this summer.

Kommareddi was an Illinois delegate to the Democratic NationalConvention in Boston, and Mosser was an assistant to the directorof operations at the Republican National Convention in NewYork.

Kommareddi followed a traditional path to a career in politics,majoring in political science at NU. But Mosser shifted from thenewsroom to the campaign trail when she realized her politicalbeliefs prevented her from writing objectively.

“I got into politics towards the end of college,” Mosser said.”I’m far too biased or opinionated to be a good reporter, so I wantto use my writing to help my party.”

The Republican National Convention’s Director of Operations,Michael V. Miller, Medill ’58 and ’59, hired Mosser as hisassistant, and she immediately began working at Madison SquareGarden after graduating last April. Mosser and Miller were incharge of converting the venue from a hockey and basketball arenato a convention hall, overseeing the installation of about 28,000miles of cable, creating space for 15,000 members of the media andmaking the building secure for the president to deliver hisacceptance speech.

“It was really quite an operation,” Mosser said. “The mediaaspect of the event was the most fascinating for me, because of mybackground.”

The Republican party’s use of moderate speakers such asCalifornia Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and former New York MayorRudy Giuliani in prime-time slots, and the content of Bush’sspeech, taught Mosser the importance of carefully planning thepublic face of the convention, she said.

“The party is smart,” Mosser said. “The political strategybehind the scenes was spotless. It achieved exactly what we wantedto achieve. I wanted the president’s speech to be morehard-hitting, but it’s not supposed to be. It’s supposed to lay outthe plan for the next four years, and it did.”

Mosser’s success as a political rookie at the conventionconvinced her to continue in politics — she will soon startworking full-time for the Michigan

Republican Party.

Kommareddi said she actively supported Massachusetts Sen. JohnKerry long before he was the front-runner for the Democraticpresidential nomination, making her a candidate to representIllinois’ 9th Congressional District as a delegate to theDemocratic National Convention.

“I was a very early supporter of John Kerry,” Kommareddi said.”I wanted to show my support for him, and I wanted the opportunityto go to the convention.”

Like Mosser, Kommareddi was surprised by the scripted nature ofthe convention, she said.

“It was more orchestrated than I thought it would be,”Kommareddi said. “I really got to see the behind-the-scenesoperations.”

Young political workers such as Kommareddi bring new life to theDemocratic Party while learning lessons that will benefit them infuture political campaigns, according to Degee Wilhelm, Kerry’sauthorized representative for the State of Illinois. Wilhelmoversaw Kommareddi and all of the Illinois delegates.

“Anyone serving in that role brings to the table the ideals ofthe Democratic population that she makes up,” Wilhelm said. “It’san opportunity for new blood to help out.”

A trip to the national convention also teaches young delegatesthat their grassroots political efforts do make a difference,Wilhelm said. Kommareddi now works for Strategy Group, a Democraticpolitical consulting firm.

“It teaches (them) that a willingness to get involved and put(their) neck on the line really pays off,” Wilhelm said. “Someonewho is involved as a college student or recent graduate sets thestage for a lifetime of enthusiasm.”

Reach Ryan Haggerty at [email protected]