Known for her decades of expertise navigating California’s unique political landscape, Gale Kaufman’s strategic guidance has led her clients through some of the State’s most significant and successful campaigns. While widely recognized for her leadership on hundreds of California State Senate and Assembly campaigns over the years, she has gained even more notoriety for her decisive victories on many prominent statewide ballot initiative campaigns that have undoubtedly changed the direction of California’s future. Since 1998, there hasn’t been an electoral cycle with ballot propositions that Kaufman hasn’t been involved.
That is one of the many reasons why Gale Kaufman is one of only four women inducted into the American Association of Political Consultants Hall of Fame, consistently appears near the top of Capitol Weekly’s annual Top 100 list, and why Campaigns & Elections Magazine named her as one of the nation’s most influential political figures in 2012.
Most recently, Kaufman led the incredibly successful independent expenditure campaign supporting Tony Thurmond’s election as Superintendent of Public Instruction, a campaign that was outspent more than two-to-one, and the campaign that defeated Proposition 5, an initiative bankrolled by real estate interests that would have led to cuts for local services and schools.
In 2016, Kaufman led winning campaigns for two prominent ballot measures, Propositions 55 and 64. Proposition 55, which extended income tax rates on the wealthiest Californians, won with over 60% of the vote. Proposition 64, which legalized marijuana, attracted the broadest coalition and received the highest vote share of any of the eight states to pass a legalization measure to date.
In the 2014 General Election, Kaufman led the winning team for the No on Proposition 46 campaign, assembling an unprecedented bipartisan coalition of over 400 organizations across the political spectrum and delivered a precisely crafted message across all available media platforms. Early polling by Prop 46’s proponents showed the measure receiving over 70% support, yet Kaufman and her team defeated it by more than two-to-one.
In the 2012 General Election, Kaufman led a coalition of labor, business, and good government organizations to defeat Proposition 32, which aimed to restrict union dues collection. Kaufman was also instrumental in getting Proposition 30 on the November 2012 ballot, which has helped the state restore cuts to K-14 public schools after the Great Recession.
One of Kaufman’s most notable triumphs was in the 2005 statewide special election. She was the lead consultant for the Alliance for a Better California’s successful fight against a series of ballot initiatives, proposed by then-Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, that aimed to take away workers’ rights, threatened teacher tenure, and cut funding from public schools. Schwarzenegger had a total of four deceptive measures on the ballot, and with the help of the coalition led by Kaufman, all four were defeated.
In 1992, then-Assembly Speaker Willie L. Brown, Jr. selected Kaufman to be the first woman to lead the Speaker’s Office of Majority Services. From 1992 through 1995, with a staff of 35, she provided leadership to all members of the Assembly Democratic Caucus.
Kaufman has served as a political consultant to the California Teachers Association for twenty years. She lives in Sacramento with her husband Steve Murakami and has three sons David Kaufman, and Michael and Sean Murakami.
Dagny Starn joined Kaufman Campaigns in 2005, as office manager and executive assistant to Gale Kaufman. Starn provides key support related to accounting, billing, and office operations for Kaufman Campaigns. In addition, she has provided her extensive experience in project management for various candidate and initiative campaigns over the years.
Prior to joining KCC, Starn worked in the State Capitol in Sacramento for Assemblymember George Nakano in 2002 and then as the Assembly Democratic Caucus assistant from 2004 through 2005.
Starn graduated from the University of California Santa Barbara with a bachelor of arts in political science and art history and currently lives in Sacramento with her husband and daughter.
Johan Rognerud joined Kaufman Campaigns in 2015. As operations manager for KCC, Johan keeps campaigns on track by overseeing budgets, coordinating TV and radio media plans, executing mail programs, and working with our many vendors. Johan most recently worked on Proposition 55 and Proposition 64.
Prior to joining KCC, Johan worked on various competitive local and legislative campaigns, for the California State Senate, and for Senate Democrats.
Johan was raised in the East Bay and has a bachelor of arts in political science from San Francisco State University. When Johan isn’t crunching the numbers, you can find him at the local volleyball court or driving on one of California’s many back roads.
Joshua has been at Kaufman Campaign Consultants since 2005. During his tenure at KCC he has worked on all facets of campaigns including coalition building, issue research, opposition research, field operations, media production, message development, and fundraising.
Most recently, he managed endorsement outreach efforts for "Yes on Proposition 55," helping to build an extensive coalition, united to prevent billions in cuts to education and vital services.
Prior to joining KCC, Heller was a legislative researcher for State Net in Washington, DC, and worked on congressional campaigns in Pennsylvania and Virginia.
Heller graduated from Butler University in Indianapolis, IN, with a bachelor of arts in economics. When not working, he enjoys spending time with his family and volunteering in the greater Sacramento community.