Gina Glantz

individual

Overview

  • Founding member of America Votes, America Coming Together, and the New Politics Institute
  • 1960s Free Speech Movement activist
  • Worked on the unsuccessful presidential campaigns of Walter Mondale, Bill Bradley, and Howard Dean

Gina Glantz was born as Gina Stritzler in about 1943 and was raised in Westfield, New Jersey. In the early 1960s she enrolled as a journalism student at UC Berkeley, where she participated in the Free Speech Movement—a 1964 eruption that culminated in the occupation of the university administration building and the subsequent arrest of some 800 student trespassers. As the first “takeover” of a campus building in the history of American higher education, this event set the stage for political actions on college campuses for the next generation.

After graduating from UC Berkeley in 1965, Miss Stritzler went on to participate in the “Senior Executives in State and Local Government” program at Harvard University’s JFK School of Government. She then married Ronald Glantz, a chief investment officer at the stock brokerage firm Paine Webber.

From 1974-84, Gina Glantz worked as a campaign manager, field director, and consultant for various New Jersey Democrats at the county, state, and federal levels. She served, for instance, as chief of staff to Essex County Executive Peter Shapiro; she helped family friend Andrew Maguire win two terms in Congress during the 1970s; and she helped Brendan Byrne get re-elected as New Jersey Governor in 1977.

Glantz’s first big-time political job came in 1984, when she was the national campaign manager for Democratic presidential candidate Walter Mondale.

In 1985, Glantz and political organizer Angie Martin co-founded Martin & Glantz, a national consulting firm specializing in grassroots organizing and communications strategies. Among the firm’s clients were the American Civil Liberties Union, the Ford Foundation, NARAL Pro-Choice America, and Planned Parenthood.

In 1986, Martin & Glantz organized the famous “Hands Across America” campaign to call public attention to the issues of hunger and homelessness. The political objective of this initiative was to misrepresent these two issues as major national epidemics to which then-President Ronald Reagan was callously indifferent.

From 1998-2000, Glantz was the campaign manager of Democratic U.S. Senator Bill Bradley’s unsuccessful presidential bid.

In 2001, four years after 50-year-old Angie Martin’s death, Glantz sold her consulting firm and took a job as a senior adviser to Andrew Stern, president of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). She went on to hold this post until 2009.

In November 2002, shortly after the passage of that year’s Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act—better known as the McCain-Feingold Act (which banned “soft-money” donations in politics)—Glantz called a meeting (in Washington, D.C.) of key Democrat political operatives including Harold IckesEllen MalcolmCarl Pope, Steven Rosenthal, and Andrew Stern. At this gathering, Glantz urged the formation of an “umbrella group” that could serve as a central command organization overseeing the large network of pro-Democrat nonprofit groups known as “Section 527 Committees” — to ensure that their assets were being allocated to maximum political effect. All in attendance agreed that the McCain-Feingold Act would not prevent independent groups such as theirs from soliciting “unlimited” donations, as long as they observed two simple rules: (1) Do not explicitly advocate the “election or defeat” of federal candidates, and (2) Do not work directly with the candidates’ campaigns or their political parties.

Glantz’s vision of an “umbrella group” of leftist issue-advocacy organizations had a grave flaw, however. The wealthiest and mightiest groups that she proposed including under her umbrella — unions of government employees such as the SEIU and AFSCME (a member of the AFL-CIO) — were engaged in a brutal power struggle. This was no ordinary union turf battle. At stake was control of the American labor movement — and potentially of the entire Democratic Party, which depended on union contributions for survival. “We are fighting among ourselves when there is a common enemy, a very strong  common enemy,” complained Harold Ickes to the Washington Post on June 5, 2003. Gina Glantz added that the turf war was providing “a happy day for the [George W. Bush] White House.”

It was at that point that the billionaire philanthropist George Soros intervened. He invited Steven Rosenthal and Ellen Malcolm, among others, to his Southampton, New York beach house in July 2003 and listened to their vision for a voter-outreach group that would encompass labor, pro-abortion, and environmentalist forces under one big umbrella group called America Coming Together (ACT). Soros liked the idea and pledged $10 million to it on the spot. Before the meeting adjourned, Soros convinced other wealthy funders who were present at the meeting — such as Morton HalperinJohn PodestaCarl Pope, Jeremy Rosner, Robert Boorstin, Lewis and Dorothy Cullman, Robert GlaserPeter Lewis, and Robert McKay — to contribute an additional $12 million, bringing the total to $22 million. IRS filings list July 17, 2003 as ACT’s official launch date.

That same month also saw — in further fulfillment of Glantz’s vision — the founding of America Votes, a national coalition of grassroots, get-out-the-vote organizations.

In 2003 as well, Glantz served as a strategist and adviser for Howard Dean‘s 2004 presidential campaign, which ultimately was unsuccessful. During that same 2003-04 election season, Glantz was a key player in America Coming Together’s effort to unseat President Bush and elect progressive officials at every level of government.

In 2005, Glantz, along with Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards and New Democratic Network president Simon Rosenberg, established the New Politics Institute, a think tank devoted to helping left-wing organizations achieve their political objectives.

Glantz was a member of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund from 2006-13. During the last three of those years, she served as the Fund’s chairperson.

In 2009 Glantz was: (a) the treasurer of Qvisory, Inc, a newly formed online organization geared toward addressing the needs of young workers; (b) a fellow with the Institute of Politics; (c) a board member with the American Council of Young Political Leaders; (d) a board member with the Bay Area Economic Forum; (e) a board member with Oxfam America; and (f) a board member with Demos. She continues to hold the latter two positions to this day.

In 2009-10, Glantz served as a consultant with the McKinsey Global Institute. In 2011-12, she was a visiting professor at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. And in January 2013, she became a board member of Democracy Works, a position she still holds.

In August 2013, Glantz founded GenderAvenger.com, an organization dedicated to “making sure women are represented in all facets of public discourse.” She still holds a leadership role with this group.

In a September 2015 interview with MSNBC’s Melissa Harris-Perry, Glantz praised Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton for using identity politics to connect with female Democrat voters: “[Hillary] runs as a woman, because she is a woman. She is judged as a candidate because she is a woman. I think that you can’t be it unless you can see it. That was clearly part of what the motivation was around voters with Barack Obama and will be with Hillary Clinton. Young women might have the experience of seeing a woman president. I think that’s a motivating factor in voting, and older women, like me, we want to see one before we die.”

Glantz again lauded Mrs. Clinton early the next year, this time for visiting the city of Flint, Michigan and voicing her concern vis-a-vis that city’s ongoing crisis with contaminated drinking water. By Glantz’s calculus, Clinton’s trip to Flint gave her an air of empathy that distinguished her from Bernie Sanders, her opponent in the Democratic presidential primary. Building upon that premise, Glantz advised the Clinton campaign to have Hillary visit poor or struggling communities in other states as well, so as to burnish her image as a champion of the underdog.  According to communications from the hacked email account of Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta, Glantz wrote in February 2016: “Getting ahead of him [Sanders] around ‘caring’ can be repeated. I am thinking – though may be unrealistic given the shortness of time – that there must be any number of low income communities with high rates of asthma or other stuff in South Carolina sitting next to fossil fuel plants belching out toxic material or at least unhealthy fumes. Not on the scale of Flint but for sure to be found all across the country…. Bet you could find instances in every upcoming state if you wanted to create a ‘theme’ appealing to young people (climate change) and people of color (though there must be white communities affected as well) and anyone who could benefit from potential job creation.” Warm to Glantz’s idea, Podesta replied: “Thanks Gina. My goal is to keep her surrounded by and talking to low wage workers. That’s where her passion comes out. Like the collective actions idea. Will see if we can get something going on that.”

Glantz once served on the board of the Association of American Colleges and Universities, including a stint on its National Leadership Advisory Council.

Over the years, Glantz has made numerous political campaign contributions to Democratic candidates such as Richard Blumenthal, Barbara BoxerBill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, Howard Dean, Dianne FeinsteinJoe Kennedy III, John Kerry, Barbara Mikulski, Jerrold Nadler, Barack Obama, Chellie PingreeElizabeth Warren, and Lynn Woolsey. She also has given money to EMILY’s List and Planned Parenthood.

Further Reading: “Gina Glantz” (Linkedin.com, PersonalDemocracy.com, IOP.Harvard.edu, Keywiki.org); “The Shadow Party: Part II” (by David Horowitz and Richard Poe, 2004).

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