Matt Mackowiak
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The intensity of the news cycle has produced more news coverage but less analysis of trends. Fortunately, the end of the calendar year provides both a calm period of time and the necessary reflective mood to enable one to take stock of what occurred over the past year.

The best way to predict the future is to analyze the past. So as we head into 2012, we should first examine who had the best year in politics in 2011.

My suggested winners are:

- Gov. Chris Christie. No figure in American politics has captured the imagination like the New Jersey Republican. Inheriting a budget disaster in 2009, Christie has turned New Jersey upside down with bluntness, leadership, honesty and guts. He was courted to run for president by some of the heaviest hitters in politics and finance but passed, not because he did not think he could win, but because he did not think he was ready. His endorsement of former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney provided a major boost for Romney's campaign, and his criticisms of President Barack Obama's leadership have had the greatest resonance of any previously made by a Republican. He must now delicately balance the call of national politics with his own state's challenges and his re-election bid in a blue state in 2013.

- Gov. Andrew Cuomo. A former (controversial) Cabinet secretary and immediate past attorney general of New York, the Democrat was elected by a landslide to the same office his father famously held. In the process, after a rare political comeback, Cuomo has become a powerful governor, following a string of failures that preceded him in that office. Cuomo made national news when he passed landmark same-sex marriage legislation in June, causing the Washington Post's Chris Cillizza to write a piece titled "Andrew Cuomo: 2016 Frontrunner?" Cuomo, now proposing major tax reform (including increases for the wealthy), raised $20 million for his 2010 election, and the media and financial power of New York cannot be overstated for national politics.

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Matt Mackowiak

Matt Mackowiak is a Washington, DC and Austin, TX based political and communications consultant and the founder and President of Potomac Strategy Group, LLC, providing political consulting, media relations and crisis communications assistance to campaigns, companies, groups and individuals. Since he arrived in Washington, DC, he has served in senior roles for two U.S. Senators, a Governor, in the executive branch, in winning political campaigns, and in the private sector. Over his career Matt has developed deep relationships with national, state and local media and political figures.

Most recently Matt worked with PSG client Gov. Sean Parnell (R-AK) as a senior communications adviser, providing counsel on strategy, speechwriting and media relations during the 2011 legislative session in Juneau.

In 2010 Matt served as Campaign Manager for Bill Flores, the Republican nominee in Texas’ 17th Congressional District. After winning a 5-way primary, Flores defeated 10-term incumbent Rep. Chet Edwards (D-TX) by 25% in November, the largest margin of victory for a GOP challenger in 2010.

In addition to offering counsel to individuals and corporations, Matt provides political analysis for the Fox News Channel, MSNBC, ABC News, CBS News, BBC News, and radio stations throughout the country. Matt’s on-therecord political analysis has appeared in Politico, the Washington Times, the Los Angeles Times, Bloomberg News, The Hill, Congressional Quarterly, the Washington Examiner, the Dallas Morning News, the Houston Chronicle, and on ABCNews.com. He is a syndicated columnist and has had opinion columns published in the New York Post, New York Daily News, FoxNews.com, Chicago Tribune, Philadelphia Inquirer, Politico, Roll Call, Austin American-Statesman, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Des Moines Register, National Review online, Congressional Quarterly and on the popular blog sites The Daily Beast and The Huffington Post. Matt has lectured and given speeches at the University of Illinois, the University of Texas, Texas Christian University, Georgetown University, Catholic University, the University of Denver, American University and the University of North Texas.

From 2005-2009 Matt served as Press Secretary to U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (RTX), the fourth ranking member of the Republican Leadership, and three-term former U.S. Senator Conrad Burns (R-MT). Earlier in his career he was a political appointee at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security for Under Secretary Asa Hutchinson and Assistant Secretary Stewart Verdery, managed the second largest county in Iowa on the Bush-Cheney re-election campaign, counseled corporate clients at international PR firm Burson-Marsteller, and performed White House Presidential and Vice Presidential advance nationwide.

Matt is a Director of the Center for Public Policy and Political Studies at Austin Community College, and is a sustaining member of MaverickPAC. He serves as a member of the Board of Advisors for the non-profit Luke’s Wings and enjoys helping Becky’s Fund and USA CARES.

A native of Austin, Texas, Matt graduated with a B.S. in Communications Studies (Political Communication track) from the University of Texas in 2003. Aside from his professional work, he owns and manages the popular blog site www.potomacflacks.com, which the Washingtonian has called “one of the best political blogs.” In his free time, Matt enjoys sports, live music, reading biographies, and is an avid supporter of the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Pittsburgh Penguins and the University of Texas.