John Drogin Podcast Interview

Ted Cruz Wasn’t Supposed to Be a Senator. This Man Managed his Campaign and Defied all Odds

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Electing Senator Cruz Wasn’t Supposed to Be Possible. John Drogin’s Role as Cruz’s Campaign Manager Was to Defy the Odds!

This week’s guest is John Drogin. Drogin has been a long-time friend of mine and somebody I’ve worked in the conservative political trenches with for many years. He was also my boss, serving as Senator Cruz’s State Director when I was on the Senator’s staff. He’s currently operating his own consulting shop focusing on digital marketing and political strategy for political and corporate clients.

Drogin’s political resume is a long one and we’ll get him to share plenty of that history during the interview but what most people know him as is the Campaign Manager for Senator Ted Cruz’s long-shot Senate candidacy in 2012.

He’s known Senator Cruz for 8 years and was critical to the success of his 2012 candidacy and Cruz’s early success in the Senate.

John and his bride Mandy live in Austin, Texas and are new parents to the beautiful GraceMarie.

Links from the Podcast:

Connect with John on TwitterFacebook, LinkedIn!

Important Time Stamps and Descriptions:

00:00 Programming Note from Raz

00:55 Introduction and John Drogin Bio

02:24 Tell us about your background and what you did before crossing paths with Ted Cruz

11:59 How did you and Ted Cruz get connected?

19:02 How did y’all start building Cruz’s Senate campaign?

24:44 How did you build your campaign team, especially for such a long-shot run?

34:26 Tell us about that first year on the campaign trail. Building the strategy and the first phase of the campaign

37:58 The importance of letting people really get to know the candidate!

43:58 How Cruz secured critical PAC and SuperPAC endorsements

48:52 How did you bait Ducking Dewhurst into engaging?

54:30 How did you deal with the misleading attacks that the Dewhurst campaign deployed?

57:16 Once you won the Senate race, how did y’all build a strong, conservative Senate Staff?

1:04:52 What was your job as Cruz’s State Director and how did that mission build out?

1:08:54 What advice do you have for potential candidates and campaign staff?

1:10:24 Drogin’s contact information and outro

Arnn at CPAC 2017

At CPAC, Hillsdale College President Discusses Conservatism and Trump

There are few affiliations of which I am prouder than my relationship with Hillsdale College. Its small, beautiful campus in rural Michigan is juxtaposed by the enormous power it projects across the nation, especially within the conservative movement.

Yesterday, Hillsdale College President, Dr. Larry Arnn, addressed CPAC about the nature of conservatism and what he believes Trump must do to claim himself as a conservative.

Arnn is a personal mentor and friend of mine so I am far from objective, but I believe the content of his speech is incredibly important and deserves a full view.

Through his speech, Dr. Arnn lays out the argument that today’s administrative state poses a direct threat, possibly the greatest threat, to the conservation of America’s founding principles.

While he applauds President Trump’s antagonism towards that administrative colossus, Arnn also makes clear that his agreement on this area of policy does not constitute a blanket endorsement:

The college campus where I work is not really wracked by the politics of the day, but the Trump Campaign has presented special challenges. Because there’s obviously a lot of things that are really great about that guy, but we don’t teach our students at Hillsdale College to act the way he does on all occasions.

He also acknowledges that whether or not Trump is a conservative will be judged by the actions he takes as days go by.

So what is first, original, the principle, what would you conserve about America? I think you can’t understand the importance of Trump and what one hopes he’s going to do until he answers that question.

In describing the Declaration of Independence, Arnn discusses the nature of self-evident truths and true meaning of equality:

It says that it is a self-evident truth that all men are created equal. What does self-evident mean? Does it mean that everybody agrees with it? What does equal mean? Look around in here, everybody is different, so in what way equal? Well, the document says, ‘all human.’ Different from every other kind of creature in that respect. That principle and shining respect. Some are taller, some are shorter. Some are darker, some are lighter. Some are smarter, some are dumber. Some are lazy, some are industrious. All Human. And in that respect, we have the same rights.

That equality and the constitutionally defined form of government our Founder’s gave us are then the two primary areas where conservatives must focus their conservatory force.

At the close of Arnn’s speech, he lays out the necessity of breaking up the power of today’s administrative state, details why he is hopeful about Trump’s promises to tear it down and what the President must do to be judged a conservative:

If you think all that. If you get up in the morning and you’ve studied that all your life, as I happen to have done, and you see all of these [agencies] and the things going on in them, that are not at all constitutional. If you see that, and you see somebody running for president, and even if he talks about himself too much, if he’s fearless in saying that he’s going to cut back that vast hedge that has come and overcome so much of our country. And if he does that fearlessly and is not afraid of political correctness, I think that guy’s a conservative. And I think we ought to be that too.


Auto Dealers are Stifling the Free Market

The Economy is Changing

There can be no doubt. From Uber to AirBnB; revolutionizing the way we get from point A to B or find a place to stay. It’s awesome! Consumer costs are dropping, entrepreneurship is growing and outdated regulations are being challenged.

But not everybody is happy. The Taxi Unions hate ride-sharing and Hoteliers despise short-term rentals. It all comes down to the fact that competition is coming at them from areas that they know they’re vulnerable. I’m sure the buggy-whip makers were ticked at Mr. Ford, he just didn’t have a union or trade organization to lobby elected officials!

Tesla is Breaking the Mold

In the same way that Taxi unions and Hoteliers are pushing back against their new-grown competition, Auto-dealers are fighting a pitched battle to snuff out those who dare challenge their comfortable, guaranteed market.

Enter, Tesla Inc.

From day-one, Tesla has challenged the historical norm of a 3 tier auto-sales structure. The old way meant that an auto-maker built the vehicle, an auto-dealer served as the middle man and then sold it to the end user. Tesla has pioneered the new way: direct to the consumer.

Across the nation they’ve been letting consumers design and buy their cars online for several years and have sold hundreds of thousands via that medium. As they’re growing and their market grows, they’re opening hundreds of locations across the country where potential customers can test drive cars, get educated on the vehicles and design their new ride.

Bad State Laws Are Holding Back Innovation

The problem is that several states have it written in law that auto-manufacturers may not sell directly to an end user. It’s illegal for they to bypass the middle man, the auto-dealer.

This out-dated model protects auto-dealers at the expense of the consumer, but no other way could have been imagined before the internet. As we see in so many market sectors today, new technology is disrupting century-old ways of doing things. Why should car sales be any different? Why should my car options be limited to what a dealer has in stock? If I want to go walk into a Apple-like store, design a car and pay for it and have it shipped to me upon completion, I should be able to.

But bad laws say I can’t. It’s time for that to change and in states like Texas, we’re trying to make that happen.

Conservative leaders and organizations, from The Heritage Foundation to Glen Beck, Young Conservatives of Texas to Americans for Prosperity, are all calling for these laws to be changed. Rick Perry, Newt Gingrich and the Republican Party of Texas have also given their support.

It’s time that these outdated laws and burdensome regulations be lifted!

No, You Don’t Have to Believe in Man-Made Global Warming to Love Tesla

It’s no secret that Elon Musk, Tesla’s founder, believes that a change to carbon-neutral transportation is critical to the globe’s survival. He’s got a ton of love from environmentalists that are convinced man is the worst parasite ever to walk the face of the earth. Does that mean I shouldn’t like his cars or be able to buy one in a Texas store? Hell no.

The fact is that Musk has done with Tesla what so many have thought impossible. They’ve actually put private money on the line and developed increasingly impressive cars at consistently more affordable prices. He’s invested in a truly global system of charging stations and has transformed the idea of owning an electric car from a fad to an easily attainable reality.

7 Reasons Why The Traditional Model Doesn’t Work For Tesla

Tesla has laid out  7 reasons that they need to be able to sell direct to consumers, and shouldn’t be legally forced to use the current dealer system. Not only do they believe that they can provide a cheaper, better experience for customers via this route, they also don’t believe that the existing auto-dealer system can be relied upon to effectively market and sell their revolutionary cars…and I think their reasons have merit.

  1. Meet the Customer: Tesla isn’t just trying to change the way we look at cars, they’re trying to change the way we shop for them. Rather than attracting people to large lots of vehicles, they want to meet potential buyers where they are. Their stores focus on areas with lots of organic traffic, especially foot traffic. Because they’re trying to bring electric cars into the main stream, they know that they need to educate consumers not just on the car itself but the very idea of electric cars in general. They’re making a move similar to when Apple began opening it’s own stores. Each facility is as much an educational center as it is a sales floor
  2. Zero Inventory: When you think about car dealerships, the immediate scene that comes to mind is an endless sea of depreciating inventory. Auto-dealers live and die by the number of cars they have in stock. If they don’t have what you want right now, you can go down the street and buy it from someone else. Tesla, on the other hand, literally lets you custom design your car online or at their store. It’s then built to your exact specifications and shipped to you as soon as it’s ready!
  3. Buyer Education: Customers that walk into traditional auto-dealerships are primarily interested in getting the lowest price. That’s about all they care about. For Tesla, however, the education process is much more extensive. Because that educational process is longer and their product so revolutionary, it means that the salesman has to be prepared to spend much more time with each customer. If Tesla was forced to sell through traditional dealership chains, it is very easy to believe that their sales would be marginalized because salesmen wouldn’t want to spend the time (in some cases hours) that Tesla believes their customers deserve.
  4. Revolutionary Business Model: Traditional auto-dealers don’t make much money on the sale of the actual car. Financing, services and upgrades are where their money is made. I know it’s weird, but Tesla actually makes their money from…selling cars! The lower maintenance costs of the Tesla electric cars means that traditional dealers wouldn’t be able to make as much post-sale revenue and further provides disincentives to selling what Tesla brings to market.
  5. Advertise Differently: Like Apple, Tesla is very particular about it’s advertising. They know their product and customers better than any dealer and want to retain control over that, rather than putting advertising into the hands of a local dealership.
  6. Dealers Wont Sell Them: Because Tesla is able to so broadly sell cars directly to consumers, existing dealers wouldn’t be able to mark up the prices enough to make selling them worthwhile! Why pay more for a car when I can drive across the border and buy it without a dealer markup, in a state that allows direct sales?
  7. Conflict of Interest: Tesla believes in replacing gas-powered cars. Their revolutionary technology and peerless design has gone a long way towards making electric cars main-stream. Add to that the increasing mass-affordability of the Model 3, at $35,000, and it’s increasingly easy to see how they can do that. It’s unreasonable to believe that dealerships would put as much effort behind selling Tesla’s electric cars as they do gas-powered vehicles on which they make more money, both up front and in post-sale revenue.

No Special Carve-Outs

Tesla is lowering prices and innovating in ways never before imagined, but they aren’t asking for special treatment. They’re just asking that they be allowed to do something different. Most of the legislation they’re supporting, in states like Texas, asks for all manufacturers to be able to sell direct to consumers. They want an even playing field, which is exactly what conservatives stand for.

By opening up direct sales to all manufacturers, it’s possible that their high costs relating to inventory and distribution costs could be cut significantly. This directly benefits consumers and auto-makers but dealers feel threatened by this move.

Time for a Change

We live in an absolutely fascinating time with unprecedented opportunity for technology to impact our economy and daily lives. Yet too many industries are using government power and lobbying dollars to slow and halt that innovation at every turn. I get it, they’re scared. But government shouldn’t be a tool that powerful industries use to crush competition. The playing field should be level and government shouldn’t be picking who wins and loses. Thats a choice that should be left to you and me, as consumers.

Whatever you think about global warming or Musk’s ethos, he’s made some damned good cars and using government regulation to keep them off the street is in no way conservative.


Trump Signs Executive Order

HUGE: President Trump Issues Regulatory Freeze

BREAKING NEWS: Shortly after being sworn into office on Friday, President Donald J. Trump put pen to paper and signed an Executive Order declaring an immediate freeze on any new Federal regulations. The Executive Order also directs federal agencies to do anything in their power to ease the regulatory burden on the public as it relates to Obamacare-related rules.

In anticipation of this order, federal agencies over the past few days have rushed to write as many new regulations as they could complete before Trump’s swearing in. According to The Hill, the Federal Register was “overwhelmed Thursday with nearly 1,500 pages worth of rules from federal agencies.”

This is a positive first step by Trump in reversing the many thousands of onerous federal regulations that have been strangling small businesses, entrepreneurs, and middle class workers across the nation. Recent regulations could prove fatal to many companies across the nation – regulations like the FDA’s takeover of the premium cigar industry, for example. Those regulations would treat single-ingredient, hand rolled premium cigars as if they were cigarettes, requiring small family boutique cigar shops to pay potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars per blend in FDA approval processes. These regulations are estimated to potentially destroy tens of thousands of jobs at small and family-owned businesses, but they are listed in the recent report compiled by the Republicans in the House among the regulations for Trump to consider abolishing in his first 100 days in office. I reached out to Glynn Loope, the Executive Director of Cigar Rights of America. Mr. Loope told me that they are “Hopeful that this is just beginning of a process that will roll back the current draconian rules that have been imposed on the premium cigar industry, and a serious step toward protecting the industry from future regulatory threats. Over 2,000 American small businesses, a central part of our trade relationship with Latin America, and a supply chain that spans from Florida to Pennsylvania depends upon it.”

Federal regulations were estimated to cost over $2 TRILLION dollars in 2012 alone, and typically consume about 21 percent of the average business’ payroll costs, according to a 2014 report by the National Association of Manufacturers.

Ending costly federal regulations have long been a main concern of small-government conservative Republicans and libertarians. This action by Trump on his very first day in office should encourage these groups, and bring them the first ray of hope after a very dark eight years.

Young Conservatarian Montana Lawmaker Could Be Your Next Congressman

With Rep. Ryan Zinke vacating his seat to join Trump’s administration as the next Secretary of Interior, the at-large Congressional seat he occupies will be open after January 20th, 2017, if and when he’s confirmed. There are six Montana lawmakers – both Republicans and Democrats – potentially vying for that seat. One of the potential candidates is 29-year-old Montana State Representative Daniel Zolnikov.

Zolnikov is currently serving his third term as State Representative for Montana’s 45th District. First elected in 2012, Zolnikov has risen to prominence in the state for his work on privacy issues and constitutional rights. According to his website, he has “successfully passed laws requiring government to get a warrant in order to access cellphone location information, protect reporters’ electronic communications from government intrusion, and give immunity from MIP laws to minors who seek emergency medical attention.” Recently, Zolnikov led the effort to bring Uber to Montana.

What best explains Daniel’s penchant for freedom-minded issues? He says it’s his family background. His father’s family fled Stalin-era Russia for Iran, where his dad was born. Zolnikov’s father then came to the U.S. as a political refugee.

Despite his libertarian accolades, Zolnikov’s voting record affirms he has sound cultural conservative views as well. He was recently awarded a 100 percent rating from the American Conservative Union and received a 90 percent rating from the Montana Family Foundation. Moreover, NARAL Montana and Planned Parenthood Advocates of Montana gave him 0 percent and 20 percent ratings, respectively. During the 2016 presidential primary cycle, he supported Rand Paul and later served on Ted Cruz’s Montana Leadership Team. He endorsed Gary Johnson following the primary. More notably, he has been honored as a Forbes 30 Under 30 recipient for his work in Montana’s legislature.

This is a politician both libertarians and conservatives could get behind — especially on the national level.

The up-and-coming Millennial politician has yet to make a formal bid for the at-large Congressional seat, but was kind enough to allow The Resurgent to ask him some questions. Below is my interview with Mr. Zolnikov:

TR: Tell our readers more about your background and what led you to run for office in Montana.

DZ: I was interested in politics for numerous reasons. From an early age, I realized there were problems in the world (and country and state). I grew up in a rural town in Montana that had a very limited economy. To put it into perspective, a high school kid who showed up with a “new” car that was only five-years-old was considered spoiled. It was the life of having what was needed, not wanted. So when I learned about the government’s excessive spending in our government class, the massive amount of debt we had was incomprehensible to me. I seriously couldn’t (and still can’t) wrap my head around it! I was so awestruck by this excessive spending, my high-school term paper’s topic was on the national debt.

While sitting in this same high-school government class, I realized that winning a legislative seat was very possible. All I needed was the majority of the vote, and with only 50-60% turnout, winning an election was very possible if I knocked enough doors. Years later, this concept proved true.

I ran for office, not because I believed I knew more than other elected officials (most who are twice my age) but because I believed I could take bold stands and add a necessary perspective. In other words, I thought most politicians were spineless. Like most people, I am a very imperfect human being. Instead of acting like a facade, I wanted to be real, which included owning my flaws. Believe it or not, this viewpoint allowed me to actually make my politics and perspective relatable to voters, instead of pretending to be this.

I recently won my third election to Montana’s legislature. In the last five years, I have dedicated over one year of my life knocking on doors. I have worn out multiple pairs of shoes and have had thousands of conversations.

TR: There is great chatter surrounding you potentially running to fill Rep. Zinke’s seat . If you decide to run and do win, what issues will you promote on Capitol Hill? Will you join committees like the House Freedom Caucus and newly-restarted Second Amendment Caucus?

DZ: I believe our overspending is the largest long-term national security risk our country faces. It has taken decades of intense overspending to get us where we are today. It will take us decades of decreased spending to start paying off the debt. This will not be done without public support. In Congress, I would continuously identify and message our government’s insane spending methods and how ridiculously out-of-touch our federal executive branch is with the rest of the country.

Congress needs a cultural shift. I have worked extremely hard to be a positive person, and find the good in every situation. In some situations, the effort is futile, but overall it has been a leadership game changer. I believe this is completely necessary to find commonalities and actually achieve results (like cutting wasted spending and protecting our civil liberties).

I would most likely fit in with the liberty caucus and as a solid Second Amendment supporter, would identify with the Second Amendment Caucus as well. I would also like to be a liaison between the conservative leadership and the liberty caucus. I have seen too much infighting in Republican politics in Montana. All it leads to is bitter relationships and wasted resources. Our Congress can do better.

One way that our politicians are out of touch with the majority of voters is their salary. I would gladly only take the average U.S. wage of roughly $50,000 as a Congressman. I firmly believe in putting my money where my mouth is. I’m already known as a couch surfing legislator, so I would just bring this concept to the federal level.

TR: You’re a Millennial, liberty-minded politician who understands the issues and garners a lot of good attention. Politicians are traditionally old, stuffy, and boring–you’re clearly the opposite. How important is it to have irreverent politicians who are principled yet action-oriented?

DZ: I have had multiple conversations this week with people who are interested in running for office. The interest is there, the resources are not. Once people realize that someone as normal as me can do it, they stop asking if and start asking how. Empowering the people!

Another issue I continuously hear is how some people are worried about the skeletons in their closet. Sadly, a lot of folks don’t realize that we all have them! Someone who hasn’t done something stupid hasn’t lived. And most skeletons people are concerned about are actually minor.

TR: How can other young people get encouraged to run for office? Why should more young people be involved in the public policy/political process?

DZ: A diverse Congress better represents a diverse country. I love being a millennial with a passion-driven mentality. We literally think different than previous generations, and we want to see politics change. But we have to have candidates run for office to actually win seats so it is up to us to step up and run for local and statewide offices. Put your name in the hat and go knock on doors. You’d be surprised how few people actually run and how easy it is to stand out and get support by being younger.

Congress could certainly benefit from having a fresh, principled perspective like Daniel’s. To connect with State Rep. Zolnikov, follow him on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter!