Jamie Long took his current position knowing it was short-term. Whether the candidate wins or loses, the campaign manager’s role automatically ends when the election is over.
However, Long won’t be job-hunting on November 5. “I am on leave from my other job, which is as Congressman Ellison’s District Director,” he said.
Long said that it’s typical for campaign managers to stay on for only one cycle, moving on to work for another candidate. “Part of that is professional growth,” Long said. “Part of it is necessity — if you’re governor you’re only up for election every four years. The campaign manager has to find something to do in the interim. Sometimes people will go places where there are off-year elections.”
Other people, like Long, move back and forth between politics and policy. “I’m less of a pure campaigner and more of a campaign/policy hybrid,” he said. “It’s not uncommon for people to do both. If you understand one, you understand the other.”
Long was a political science major at Carleton, graduating in 2004. He went to law school at George Washington University in D.C. “intentionally, knowing I wanted to do policy and politics.” He served as legal fellow for two members of Congress and worked at an environmental nonprofit. “I decided to practice law for a little while to see what it was like. In politics you’ve only got a job as long as your boss does.” He campaigned on the side during his two years in private practice, then was hired by Congressional representatives from Denver and Rhode Island.
“I wanted to come back to Minnesota. I was hired by Congressman Ellison as his legislative director in D.C. He had an opening back here — I knew I would be switching from official work to campaign work,” Long said.
While the term “politics” sometimes has negative connotations, Long said, “Politics is the means to get folks in office who care about the issues that you care about. I care deeply about the future of the country. I find it really appealing to be able to talk to the voters about the values we share.”
What are the main differences between politics and policy?
Campaigning is very fast-paced and interactive. In policy work you can get into a little more depth — digging into issues, coming up with solutions for problems.
What does the campaign manager do?
I manage the campaign field work — people who knock doors and make phone calls. People who raise money. People who talk to the press and manage social media.
What is a typical day like?
There is no typical day. The job is incredibly vague. You’re at a fundraiser one minute. The next minute you’re trying to put together a door knock for the weekend.
What do you like best about your job?
It may sound cheesy, but I love Minnesota’s political culture. We are an extremely engaged group of folks. You see that in the caucus tradition, high voter turnout, high participation in civic groups. That’s a fun place to be in a political career — you get to engage with people who want to engage with you.
What’s the biggest challenge?
I guess it’s just finding enough hours in the day — you have to juggle so many things. It’s always a challenge to stay focused, moving from one thing to the next.
Would you do this again?
Absolutely — it’s fantastic. □