Paul Tewes

Fall 2018 Resident Fellow

Veteran political strategist and organizer who in 2008 ran Barack Obama’s historic Iowa caucus campaign

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Paul Tewes is well known as one the foremost political operatives in the country, having spent two decades developing and implementing successful candidate and issue campaigns across the country.

As the Director of President Obama’s 2008 Iowa Caucus campaign, Paul and his team built and engineered a historic and crucial victory by building the largest grassroots organization the state had ever seen. They wrote a whole new playbook on how to win campaigns and created the template for how Barack Obama would win the subsequent contests and reach the White House.

After Iowa, President Obama asked Paul to direct national party operations on his behalf. In that role, Paul oversaw a multi-million dollar budget and was instrumental in putting together the blueprint for President Obama’s organizational efforts in the General Election—the largest effort of its kind in U.S. history.

In the years before and since his service on the Obama campaign, Paul has been involved with some of the most notable campaigns in the country – building and leading campaigns around climate change, health care, and financial reform. The model for the strategy, design and implementation of these efforts was the successful campaign Paul spearheaded in 2005 to defeat President Bush’s plan to privatize Social Security. The organization he helped found to wage the Social Security campaign – Americans United for Change – drew enormous momentum from the victory and remains at the forefront of crucial progressive issue fights today.

In 1998 and in 2000, he ran the field campaigns of two of the closest senate races in those years, Senator Feingold’s narrow win and then Senator Cantwell’s 2,300 vote win in 2000. Paul has earned a reputation of winning close races by building unparalleled organizations.

Paul has worked and campaigned in nearly every state in the country. Having served first as the DSCC’s National Coordinated Campaign Director in 2001-02 and then as its Political Director in 2003-04 — in addition to his work during President Obama’s 50-state primary campaign in 2008 — he understands that no two states, no two candidates and no two issues are the same.

Since 2009, Paul has created three successful political consulting businesses and taken the lead on building organizations for organized labor, health care issues and environmental causes to name a few. 

Paul is originally from Minnesota, where he got his political start after graduating from Carleton College.