Arthur J. Finkelstein (born 1946) is a United States Republican Party political operative. He has directed a series of campaigns, considered to be quite successful, to elect conservatives in the United States and Israel in the past 25 years. He runs Arthur J. Finkelstein and Associates, a political consulting firm based in Irvington, New York, which handles his clients. He works with his brother, Robert Finkelstein.
Little is known about Finkelstein's background other than that he is Jewish
and grew up in New York City
His signature is in the lobby of the King David Hotel in Jerusalem, Israel.
By 1972 he was working on President Richard M. Nixon
's re-election campaign as a demographic theoretical analyst. In 1979 he rose to prominence as a pollster
for Ronald Reagan
during the Republican primaries leading up to the 1980 general election that made him President. In 1980, he engineered the surprising victory of former U.S. Senator
from New York Alfonse D'Amato
over incumbent Jacob Javits
. The unexpected victory of Republican George Pataki
over the Democratic incumbent Mario Cuomo
in the 1994 New York Governor's race in the heavily Democratic-leaning state helped to cement Finkelstein as one of the most successful campaign managers working at the time. In 1996, Finkelstein had a hand in directing Republican strategy in 33 U.S. Senate races.
Finkelstein is known for his hard-edged political campaigns, which often focus on hammering home a single message with great repetition. He is credited with helping to make "liberal
" a dirty word in the USA during the late 1980s and 1990s by using commercial messages like this, intended to damage Jack Reed
- That's liberal. That's Jack Reed. That's wrong. Call liberal Jack Reed and tell him his record on welfare is just too liberal for you.
He also helped create the idea for this commercial message about Minnesota
U.S. Senator Paul Wellstone
- Paul Wellstone. Embarrassingly liberal. Decades out of touch.
While often successful, Finkelstein's tactics have sometimes backfired -- such as in 1996, where his repeated attacks against Wellstone had the effect of galvanizing Wellstone's liberal grass-roots base. Republican U.S. Senator Rod Grams
had to eventually condemn Finkelstein's negative ads against Wellstone for being excessive.
Finkelstein's early style is described in an account of a Congressional primary race in Arizona (Thomas W. Benson. "Another Shooting in Cowtown." Quarterly Journal of Speech 67 (1981): 347-406.)
Finkelstein's office shares a small building with Diversified Research, a Republican push-polling firm. It is highly likely, but not certain, that he retains their services.
Finkelstein has worked for many politicians in a number of positions:
His firm has also done non-political work for a number of organizations:
In 1996, Boston Magazine outed
Finkelstein as a homosexual in a feature story. In April 2005, Finkelstein acknowledged that in December, 2004, he had married his long time partner in a civil ceremony at his home in Massachusetts
. This prompted former President Bill Clinton
to state that "I thought, one of two things. Either this guy believes his party is not serious, and is totally Machiavellian in his position, or there's some sort of self-loathing there. I was more sad for him."
Stop Her Now
In April 2005, Finkelstein organized a political action committee
(PAC) called Stop Her Now
with the stated goal, "to shed light on the REAL Hillary Clinton
and the danger she and her ideas pose for America." The PAC planned to raise ten million dollars to defeat Clinton in the 2006 New York U.S. Senate race
, thereby making a potential 2008 presidential run
less likely. However, the PAC showed barely any activity
, had no effect on the Senate race, and Clinton was easily re-elected by a wide margin. After the 2006 election, the PAC and website have since been taken over by Dallas businessman Richard Collins
In 2007, Finkelstein began working for the National Liberal Party
and the Romanian Prime Minister Calin Popescu-Tariceanu
- "Stupid people say stupid things." (Said to the Hebrew language paper Maariv in 1999)
- "The political center has disappeared, and the Republican Party has become the party of the Christian right more so than in any other period in modern history... Bush's victory not only establishes the power of the American Christian Right in this candidacy, but in fact established its power to elect the next Republican president." (Said to the Hebrew-language paper Maariv, 11/04)
- "From now on, anyone who belongs to the Republican Party will automatically find himself in the same group as the opponents of abortion, and anyone who supports abortion will automatically be labeled a Democrat." (Said to the Hebrew-language paper Maariv, 11/04)
- "She will put off Democrats from the center. In terms of the Republicans, Hillary Clinton is a wonderful candidate for the presidency." (Said to the Hebrew-language paper Maariv, 11/04)
- "When you allow people to choose between the corrupt and the stupid, they will go for the corrupt." (Said in reference to a 2003 Israeli campaign)