Mary Kate Cary and Mary Anne Marsh

What happened? Political insiders give a behind-the-scenes election look

November 3, 2020

Sharp Viewpoint Speakers Series

The elections are over. What happened? That’s what Mary Kate Cary, former speechwriter for President George H.W. Bush, and Mary Anne Marsh, Democratic political analyst and consultant, will discuss during the next Sharp Viewpoint Speaker Series at 7 p.m. on Nov. 11.

They will examine the 2020 election results and their implications for critical national issues, including the ongoing COVID-19 crisis and response, economic recovery, and a new era of American civil rights activism.

This year’s Sharp Series focuses on engaging in dialogue to foster change. University of Richmond President Ronald A. Crutcher is hosting the conversations about pressing issues of our time with pairs of thought leaders from across the political aisle.

Cary is practitioner senior fellow at the University of Virginia’s Miller Center and provides political commentary for NPR, CNN, and Fox News. Marsh is principal at Dewey Square Group in Boston, served in senior roles on the campaigns of Sen. John Kerry and Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, and provides political commentary for major media outlets, including The New York Times, Politico, and The Washington Post.

Cary and Marsh also will participate in a pre-lecture webinar with students in Ernest McGowen’s “Campaigns and Elections” course and from the newly formed Politics Club, which is open to any student interested in politics regardless of major or school.

McGowen said students will gain a better understanding of how campaigns work by hearing directly from actual practitioners.

“There is a difference between how practitioners and citizens view campaigns and their effectiveness,” he said. “A citizen should do the required research to choose between the candidates. The practitioner has an incentive to win, even if that means not giving the citizens negative information about their candidate that may help them make a more informed decision.”

McGowen noted “an increasing trend toward the professionalization of campaign consultants” and hopes that students interested in the profession will learn possible paths to entry and how technology has changed the profession. He also expects that students will “gain a ‘behind-the-scenes’ insight into how they produce the candidates and strategies that the students see on television and the internet.”

Next in the series is “Friendship and Dialogue Across Difference” on March 26, 2021. Cornel West, philosopher, political activist, and professor at Harvard University, and Robert P. George, American legal scholar and professor at Princeton University, are friends and former colleagues who will discuss the importance of fostering dialogue and cultivating friendships across ideological and political divides.

These livestreamed events are free and open to the public, and registration is required.

The speaker series was established in 2011 in honor of Richard L. Sharp, a nationally recognized entrepreneur, to present competing views on topics crucial to the nation and global society.