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Travis Lowe was on the verge of selling life insurance 11 years ago. Now he’s a key part of helping House Democrats win back a majority.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee independent expenditure director “stumbled into politics,” as he says. At the University of Iowa, he was more focused on leading the rugby team than on the presidential caucuses. After graduation, Lowe considered more traditional career paths until it became clear that his “passion for politics was more than casual.”
Fast-forward through a decade of experience on the campaign trail and the almost 33-year-old operative will direct an IE arm that has spent at least $65 million each of the past three cycles.
Lowe’s political career started in 2001 as a paid canvasser for the Iowa Democratic Party. But he didn’t stay in one place too long.
The young aspiring operative moved to Virginia for the coordinated campaign that helped elect Democrat Mark Warner governor and then to Houston to help incumbent Mayor Lee Brown win a December runoff, all in the same year.
“I didn’t want to do just one [race] per cycle,” Lowe explained. “I wanted to amass experience fast.”
Getting a paycheck was an added bonus, particularly when it was more than the $10 he earned for loading live turkeys into a truck, a high school job that Lowe also has on his résumé.
Lowe’s growing addiction to campaigns led him back to his home state of Iowa in 2002. It wasn’t enough to work in a state Senate special election and the coordinated campaign that helped then-Gov. Tom Vilsack (D) get re-elected. Lowe went down to Louisiana to help Sen. Mary Landrieu (D) get through her December runoff to round out the year.
But it was Lowe’s work in Iowa that got him noticed.
“At a young age, he showed good instincts and was able to manage people in a large operation,” said John Lapp, Vilsack’s campaign manager who would eventually become the DCCC’s executive director and IE director. But back in 2003, Lapp helped Lowe get connected.
Lapp was Iowa state director and Lowe was Iowa field director for Dick Gephardt’s 2004 presidential campaign, which featured a who’s who of influential Democratic operatives today. The team included Campaign Manager Steve Murphy, Senior Political Adviser David Plouffe, Midwest Finance Director Jon Vogel and Iowa Press Secretary Bill Burton.