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Getting Religion

Julia Piscitelli, a Washington, D.C.-based Democratic consultant, has put a new spin on the concept of Democrats reaching out to the religious community.

Recently, she signed a group of Episcopal ministers on as clients. Known as Bishops Working for a Just Society, the religious leaders wanted help in getting their message across.

The group wants to move beyond hot-button issues to ignite a broader values debate and deliver a wider Christian message, she said.

“The values discussion is about morality in public policy,” she said. The bishops needed help “explaining what is true for them in a way that people can understand.”

Last year, Piscitelli successfully shepherded Charlie Dooley (D) into the St. Louis County executive’s chair in Missouri, making him the first black candidate to win a countywide race there.

Piscitelli said she ran Dooley’s campaign along broad moral themes and hopes that other Democrats take notice and learn how to avoid wars over social issues.

“Our theme was protecting what we value most,” she said. “We talked about how St. Louis County is a safe, great place to live and raise a family, to get a good education and a job so that you can stay in the community.

“I see a lot of hope in what we accomplished in Missouri last year. The message of the races that I ran is there is a way to talk about what we all value as a society, American values, such as taking care of people, [expanding] health insurance, home ownership and education; these are important values that everyone shares.”

Piscitelli, who has assembled a diverse client roster since she opened her own public relations and political consulting firm, left Capitol Hill in 2000.

The former communications director to Reps. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and Sander Levin (D-Mich.) first went to work for NARAL Pro-Choice America. After attending graduate school at Harvard, Piscitelli returned to Washington and began consulting.

In 2001, she did work for the Alliance for Justice and Rep. Albert Wynn (D-Md.), who remains a client. Last year she managed the failed Congressional campaign of Capri Cafaro (D) in Ohio’s 14th district, helping her score an impressive primary win.

Since formally launching Piscitelli Strategies last year, she has trained mayors and city officials in media strategy through Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government’s executive program and conducted seminars for the Children’s Defense Fund.

Know Thy Enemy. Republican consultant Bill Pascoe has been hired to defeat the man he worked for in 2002.

Pascoe, who is now the principal in the Chicago-based political and media consulting firm Urquhart Media, will serve as communications director for former Jersey City Mayor Bret Schundler, one of several Republicans running for governor of New Jersey this year.

One of Schundler’s primary opponents is businessman Doug Forrester, the GOP’s nominee for Garden State Senator in 2002, whose campaign manager happened to be … Bill Pascoe.

Pascoe’s “experience in campaign communications — and particularly in New Jersey campaign communications — is unrivaled,” Schundler said in a statement.

Pascoe, who was also campaign manager for Schundler’s unsuccessful run for governor in 2001, returned the compliment.

“Bret is by far the most qualified candidate — Democrat or Republican — to hold the office of governor,” he said.

GOLden Effort. Perhaps as a “thank you” for her campaign against Rep. David Wu (D-Ore.) last year, President Bush has named failed GOP candidate Goli Ameri to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights.

The Iranian-American Ameri is serving as one of three public delegates to the commission during the meeting currently taking place in Geneva, Switzerland.

Ameri’s family fled Iran during the Islamic revolution and she ultimately ended up in Portland, Ore., where she is the president of eTinium, a telecommunications consulting firm.

Although she ran a strong and well-funded campaign, Ameri nevertheless lost to Wu in the closely watched 5th district race 58 percent to 38 percent.

Incoming, Outgoing. Philip Muller, a Sacramento-based Democratic consultant whose clients have included former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown and groups that tried unsuccessfully to defeat the 2003 recall of then-California Gov. Gray Davis (D), is pulling up stakes.

Political insiders in New Mexico say that Muller is relocating his business, Political Technologies Inc., to the Land of Enchantment.

Muller’s first major client in New Mexico was Gloria Tristani, the Democratic Senate nominee in 2002. He has worked for judicial candidates in the state since then.

Meanwhile, Marko Mlikotin, a Republican consultant, has broken out of Folsom, Calif., and is moving his consulting and lobbying business, River City Communications, into downtown Sacramento.

Mlikotin is a former campaign manager and chief of staff to ex-Rep. Doug Ose (R-Calif.), who represented the Sacramento area, and was also campaign manager to Ose’s sister, Mary Ose, in her unsuccessful 2004 bid to succeed her brother in Congress. He has been running his own consulting firm ever since in Folsom, a stone’s throw from Sacramento, but felt the need to be closer to the center of the action.

Balliehoo. The Ballot Initiative Strategy Center has launched its first Ballie Awards to recognize ballot initiative achievement within the progressive community.

Categories included Best David vs. Goliath Campaign, Most Creative On-line Ploy and Against All Odds. For a list of winners and explanation of their causes, go to