If you can sell a candidate, Andres Ramirez says, you can sell an issue. And if you can sell an issue, selling a product is easy, which is why major corporations have recently turned to hiring political consultants—like Ramirez, vice chairman of the Democratic National Committee’s Hispanic Caucus—to advise them on marketing strategies.
“Whether you are trying to launch a new tablet or a new product, it’s a whole campaign cycle,” explains Ramirez, 34, whose PR firm, the Ramirez Group, serves a diverse client list including Fortune 500 companies; the AFL-CIO; and the National Council of La Raza, the largest Hispanic civil-rights organization in the country.
That such companies have contracted him isn’t surprising—he’s one of the country’s leading experts on all things Hispanic, thanks in part to “tons of research and policy analysis, and a lot of demographic analysis.” Meanwhile, Ramirez’s passion for his community, coupled with his experiences and resources, make him a powerful instrument of change.
Ramirez’s first-grade teacher inadvertently alerted him to the cause that would become his life’s work. He once approached her to dispute a 9 out of 10 he’d received on a spelling test on which he’d spelled all the words correctly. “I remember the teacher looking at me and saying, ‘Oh, this is a very good grade for a kid like you,’” says Ramirez, the son of migrant workers. At the time, he didn’t fully grasp the implication of his teacher’s statement, but he knew he didn’t like what he heard. And those words stayed with him.
Ramirez, who attended 14 schools in 13 years while his parents continually relocated for work, was an incoming sophomore at Valley High School when the Clark County School District refused to recognize honors courses he’d taken in California because they weren’t offered here.
“Those problems really are what drove me to get involved in politics very early on,” he says of his first cause. Rather than repeat his freshman year, as the CCSD’s regulations required, Ramirez challenged the board—and won.
Next came school politics, then local elections. By the time he was a junior, he’d been appointed to a City of Las Vegas commission to help manage juvenile delinquency and the city’s growing Latino issues. He interned with Senator Harry Reid before studying at Georgetown University and later at the University of Maryland. Then he was senior vice president of NDN, a leading center-left think tank and advocacy group, before moving back to Las Vegas in January 2011 to open his own firm.
Since 2009, Ramirez has served on the DNC Resolutions Committee, a role that allows him to help set the platform and agenda for the Democratic Party, with emphasis on his chief personal concerns: equal rights, minimum wage, health care and immigration policies.
With the Hispanic Caucus, meanwhile, Ramirez develops strategy for the DNC’s Hispanic outreach efforts. For instance, when President Obama saturated the media with ads wherein he spoke entirely in Spanish—a first in American history—to help secure the Latino vote during November’s elections, it was at the recommendation of Ramirez and the caucus.
“Politics is my passion,” says Ramirez. “I fundamentally and profoundly believe that what happens at the ballot box impacts you directly in your home.”