“The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly ...” – U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt.
Mitch Kates is the co-founder of Think Big Campaigns and the team lead for its Political Consulting & Issue Advocacy division.
Mitch is a veteran political operative and consultant, who has skillfully and tactfully overseen local, statewide, and national campaigns in the U.S. (and abroad) for the last fifteen years. Recently serving as the Political Director of the Pennsylvania Democratic Party, Kates’ background is one punctuated by hard-fought struggles supporting political iconoclasts.
Fittingly, Mitch began his career as a professional wrestler. And although Mitch no longer battles in a literal arena as “Jason the Terrible,” he has repurposed the showmanship of his former profession to great effect … and occasional amusement (interested parties can find a clip of Mitch demonstrating the proper uses of a metal chair to political commentator Steve Irwin on his talk show “Steve Irwin’s Political Jungle”—a secret wish shared by many political operatives). Fortunately, Mitch’s larger-than-life personality and gravitas continues to inform his work.
In many ways, Mitch’s’ political philosophy is embodied by the name of his political consulting agency (“Think BIG Campaigns”), in which he encourages his clients to maintain the courage of their convictions, and not to yield to the inevitable challenges of seeking office. Yet, Mitch’s approach is not mere bombast or volume, but disciplined messaging, heartfelt enthusiasm, and shrewd economics. As his recent efforts with the “Vote Local PA” campaign should demonstrate, Mitch is equally dedicated to the “smaller” (yet vital) concerns of grassroots organization and local GOTV efforts.
Mitch’s’ distinct professional combination of substance and stagecraft is a winning one. His deft guidance and management were behind the successful candidacies of the former prime ministers (current president) of Kosovo (Hashim Thaçi) and the Republic of Georgia (Bidzina Ivanishvili), as well as Justice David N. Wecht’s election to the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania on a message of judicial transparency. In Florida he successfully orchestrated historic victories such as the unpredicted win of Charlie Justice for the state Senate and the election of the first openly gay Commissioner of Hillsborough County, Kevin Beckner.
Although a beloved and avowed resident of Pittsburgh these days with his wife (their four kids are scattered around the country,) Mitch’s work touches all four corners of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania- and beyond. His thoughts (and his presence) remain as large and inspiring, as ever.