Garry South

Principal, The Garry South Group

Garry South, Principal of The Garry South Group, has been called the “Carville of California” by The New York Times and “one of the top political strategists in the Democratic Party” by Newsweek described him as “a one-man brain trust on the battlements of Fort California.” The National Journal finds him “shrewd and widely feared.” The Hotline labeled South the “über California Democratic strategist.” And Capitol Weekly last year named South to its list of the Top 100 most influential political players in California.

South has 38 years’ experience at very high levels in government, politics and business consulting. He has worked for both the federal government and state governments in three different states, including as special assistant to a U.S. Cabinet Secretary, senior political advisor to a governor, communications director to another governor, chief of staff to a lieutenant governor and public information director of a state Legislature. In addition, he has managed or played leading roles in campaigns for president, U.S. Senate, governor, lieutenant governor, state Legislature, mayor, city council, county executive, county supervisor and city council. He is also a former Midwest regional finance director of the Democratic National Committee

In 1998, South managed the come-from-behind victory of Gray Davis as the first Democratic governor of California elected in 20 years – and only the fourth in the entire 20th century – and the first lieutenant governor to be elected governor in his own right since 1926. For his achievement, he was named “Campaign Manager of the Year” by the American Association of Political Consultants, an honor he shares with Karl Rove, James Carville and the late Lee Atwater.

In 2002, he directed Davis’s reelection effort, helping Davis become only the third Democratic governor in the state’s history to win a second four-year term – and the only one not named Brown. In 2000, South was a top advisor to Al Gore’s California presidential campaign, which carried the state by 12% and 1.3 million votes. In 1994, he managed Davis’s campaign for lieutenant governor, an effort that received more votes than any other Democratic campaign in America.

He is a member of the Council on American Politics of George Washington University’s Graduate School of Political Management, a regular contributor of opinion pieces to major publications, and a frequent guest commentator on NPR.

A native of Montana, South graduated with honors from the University of Montana, where he served as student body president. In 2008, he was the recipient of the University’s Distinguished Alumni Award.