Carol Dahmen is a political pro, and it’s easy to see why: She spent years in the world of state politics and campaigns, she served as deputy communications director for former Gov. Gray Davis and as former Secretary of State Kevin Shelly’s communications chief. Dahmen comes from a political family—her uncle was the late Lyn Nofziger, one of Ronald Reagan’s closest advisers—and she has unusual perspective on the impact of politics on personal lives. But now she’s out of government, serving as political marketing manager for Comcast Spotlight. Capitol Weekly caught up with her this week.
Any difference between working in the private sector and working in public life?
It’s not really unlike working for the state of California. Comcast is a large corporation. The technologies they are involved in are evolving at a rapid pace. It’s a very exciting time to be working here.
Do you miss the campaigns?
Well, having run campaigns and worked for the governor’s office, those are very long-hour jobs. It’s nice now that I don’t have to work those long hours. But I still have a job of being in the political world, and I like it. I’m sort of political adrenalin junkie, so to speak. Everyone knows in politics that you have to take breaks and pace yourself, or you’ll die young. I feel fortunate that I have the best of both worlds now – I still get to be in politics but without a candidate who has access to me time 24-7.
You worked for Shelley during a difficult time.
I spent most of my tenure in crisis mode.
Is having a crisis management background helpful in the private sector?
Well, I’m always looking at crisis management–the industry now is so competitive–so I can better position my company to campaign consultants and political professionals to better use the tools that Comcast has.
What types of issues are you involved in?
One of the reasons they hired me in 2005 was because the industry was having a problem convincing campaign officials that the industry really had changed over the past 10 years—it’s not your father’s cable company any more. Now, you can do some serious targeting, both geographically and by network. We’ve continued to refine the tools to the point where by 2012, we should be able to go directly right into your home…We are trying to build an overall profile of a voter-TV watcher, and we’ll be able to do it eventually, within the next four years. It’s been tested in some markets right now. For example, if you own a dog, you would get an ad for dog food, but your neighbor wouldn’t.