Want bipartisanship? Just say Yes!
By Salena Zito
Published: Thursday, Nov. 28, 2013, 11:55 p.m.
All it takes is a little Yes, apparently, for a Democrat and a Republican to agree on something.
That would be the popular progressive rock band of that name from the 1970s.
The Republican is John Brabender, chief media strategist for Rick Santorum's presidential bid in 2012. The Democrat is Tad Devine, top adviser to Al Gore and John Kerry in their presidential bids of 2000 and 2004.
The highly respected partisans decided to “have a little fun” and run what Brabender calls “the only bipartisan game in the nation's capital,” to get the band into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland.
“We began our efforts back in February to even get them on the nominating ballot,” Brabender said. “We used social media, an online petition, set up radio and television interviews, and basically ran a grassroots campaign.”
“There is no way to measure the impact we had, but they did make the ballot for the first time in the 20-plus years they have been eligible.”
Brabender likened that victory to winning a party's primary nomination: “Now it is off to the general election.”
Nominations for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's Class of 2014 were released in mid-October; the 16 bands and artists include Kiss, Hall & Oates, LL Cool J and Nirvana.
For the second year, the public can vote online, along with artists, historians and music industry executives.
Voting closes Dec. 10, and the top five acts picked by fans will be counted among more than 600 ballots.
Brabender and Devine's effort united two men who usually operate on opposite ends of the political divide. It also caught the attention of former NBC News president Steve Capus, a Yes fan since he attended a 1979 concert in Philadelphia, Brabender said.
“Capus and I both did some Yes touring this summer, not just because we love the band but to film a documentary that will be released Dec. 4 in an effort to help persuade Rock and Roll Hall of Fame voters to consider them for induction,” Brabender said.
Brabender filmed some of the documentary here in August when the band played at the Carnegie Music Hall in Munhall.
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, a Republican, also is a fan of the effort. “Bands with far less impact have been inducted,” he said. “But Yes is a band that was musically advanced and whose music has had staying power.”
Huckabee, host of the self-titled Fox News Channel weekly show and an accomplished bass player, said Yes bass player Chris Squire “is a living legend and virtuoso.”
Brabender said members of the band are “thrilled and humbled” by the effort but are not involved with the campaign. Neither he nor Devine is being paid by the band.
Brabender — who famously brokered a May 2012 “Pittsburgh Summit” between Republican presidential rivals Santorum and Mitt Romney at his Mt. Washington office — said he hopes his negotiating skills will help the Yes campaign, as well as proving that political rivals such as he and Devine “really can work together.”
Salena Zito is a Trib Total Media staff writer. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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