Rick Ridder's first political experience came in 1956 when he handed out
leaflets for Adlai Stevenson in McLean, Virginia. He was three years
old. In 1968 he did some volunteer work for Sen. Eugene McCarthy's
presidential campaign. During the 1972 Democratic primary campaign,
Ridder acquired his first serious campaign experience. He handled
outgoing mail in the Sen. George McGovern's presidential campaign office
in Washington, DC (the primary campaign office was located where Bullfeathers
is now), and later went out into the field where he worked ten or eleven
states. In the general election he was field director for Southeast
Los Angeles County (including Norwalk, Montebello and Whittier).
In 1976 he was a student at Middlebury College in Vermont, working on a
bachelor's degree in political science. He then earned a master's
degree in broadcasting from Boston University and worked as an independent
broadcaster and producer. Ridder started on a doctorate in Minnesota,
but ended up working for Ralph Nader on his National Citizens' Committee
for Broadcasting, an experience which he describes as "rigorous" (1981).
He was field director on Dick Lamm's 1982 gubernatorial campaign in Colorado.
In 1983 Ridder worked Western states for Sen. Gary Hart's presidential
campaign, moving up in 1984 to serve as national field director for the
campaign and floor manager at the convention.
Ascertain and play to the strengths of
If you can't count it, it didn't happen.1
In 1985 he and Joannie Braden established their consulting firm, Ridder/Braden,
Inc. in Denver. He worked on Hart's 1988 presidential campaign from
1987 until its difficult end. In March 1988 he joined Sen. Al Gore's
presidential campaign as national field director, and he held that position
for several weeks until that campaign ended. He had his first paying
international client in 1988 or 1989, the Liberal Democrats in the United
Kingdom. Starting in October 1991 he worked as a consultant for Bill
Clinton's presidential campaign, organizing Western states. His office
housed the Clinton/Gore '96 finance office for Western states.
Ridder first met Gov. Howard Dean on July 11, 2002 at his offices in
downtown Denver. Some weeks earlier, in the course of a conversation
with fellow consultants Joe Trippi and Mark Squier, he had mentioned that
Dean was the only one of the '04 prospects who had really caught his attention;
as it happened Trippi and Squier worked for Dean. On July 11 Dean
was in Denver doing some events in support of gubernatorial candidate Rollie
Heath and the two met. Ridder formally starts in January 2003; he
sees the campaign's immediate priorities as setting up a campaign finance
structure and developing outreach and recruiting efforts.
1. Ridder is referring to the importance
of being able to quantify matters.