Mike Donilon Life, Education, Career, Politics & Adviser

Mike Donilon Life, Education, Career, Politics & Adviser

Mike Donilon has been a Democratic pollster, strategist, and consultant for a long time. In 2020, President Joe Biden named him a senior adviser.

Who is Mike Donilon?

Mike Donilon, a political consultant and adviser, started working for Delaware Senator Joe Biden in 1981. He became well-known when he helped Virginia Governor Douglas Wilder get elected in 1989, which was a big deal. After helping Bill Clinton get elected president in 1992, Donilon worked with John Edwards and Bernie Sanders to help them win their Senate races. He also helped presidential candidates in Colombia, Peru, and Bolivia. Donilon went back to work for Biden as the Democrat’s chief strategist for his successful 2020 U.S. presidential campaign. He then became the president-top elect’s adviser.

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Early Life:

On December 25, 1958, Michael C. Donilon was born in  Rhode Island. He grew up in the Providence, Rhode Island, neighbourhood of Elmwood. His parents, Ed and Theresa, were both active in local politics. Ed was the head of the Providence School Board, and Theresa was a member of the City Council.


Donilon grew up in a close-knit Irish Catholic family. At St. Michael’s Parish, he became an altar boy. He and his three siblings were also enforce to pursue their musical interests. Mike learned to play guitar.

Work in Politics:

After graduating from La Salle Academy in Providence, Donilon went to Georgetown University, where he shared a room with Mark Salter, who would also go on to work in politics. In 1991, Donilon went to Georgetown University Law Center and got his J.D.

Biden Adviser:

Since 1981, when Biden was in his third term as a U.S. Senator from Delaware, Donilon has worked with the Democrat.

Donilon was named Vice President Biden’s counsellor after he helped prepare for debates and advised Biden while he travelled during the 2008 presidential campaign. A few years later, when most of the Democratic establishment was supporting Hillary Clinton for president in 2016, Donilon wrote a 20-plus page memo explaining why his boss, Joe Biden, would have been a better candidate. However, Biden decided not to run for president.

Battle for the Soul of the Country:

By April 2019, when Biden officially started his 2020 campaign, Donilon was with him as his chief strategist, in charge of TV ads, speech writing, polling, and research. Donilon, who was in charge of the campaign’s message, pushed a plan that contrasted Biden’s image as a caring everyman with that of the combative president, Donald Trump, and made the election seem like a battle for the soul of the country.

Major News Outlets:

Most major news outlets called Biden and his running mate, Kamala Harris, the winners of the election on November 7, 2020. On November 17, Donilon was named the president’s top adviser.

Consultant for Politics and Campaigns:

As of 2020, Donilon had helped elect more than 25 U.S. senators and governors and worked on the campaigns of every Democratic presidential nominee since Clinton in 1992.

Win the Senate:

Before joining the Clinton war room, he became well-known in his field as a pollster for Virginia’s Douglas Wilder, who became the first African-American governor in 1989. He also helped Pennsylvania’s Harris Wofford win the Senate after coming from behind in 1991.

Worked with Veteran Political Consultant:

In the early 1990s, Donilon worked with veteran political consultant Bob Shrum. After that in the decade, he teamed up with Shrum and Tad Devine to focus on messaging for the successful Senate campaigns of John Edwards of North Carolina, Jon Corzine of New Jersey, and Herb Kohl of Wisconsin. The three also did consulting work for the losing presidential campaigns of Al Gore in 2000 and John Kerry in 2004. They were criticized for charging too much for their services.

International Power:

During these years, Shrum, Devine, and Donilon showed their international power by helping Andrés Pastrana Arango become president of Colombia in 1998, Alejandro Toledo become president of Peru in 2001, and Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada become president of Bolivia in 2002. Aside from politics, they also made commercials for Pizza Hut and MCI, a company that deals with phone service.

Governor of New Jersey:

After starting D&D Media with Devine in 2005, Donilon helped Corzine get elected as governor of New Jersey. He also ran successful Senate campaigns for Bernie Sanders of Vermont, Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, and Bill Nelson of Florida. The two also made ads for the independent campaigns of Claire McCaskill of Missouri and Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, both of whom were running for the Senate. They also kept working on the elections of Manuel Zelaya of Honduras and Viktor Yanukovich of Ukraine.

Member of President Obama:

Donilon returned to campaigning in 2012 as a member of President Obama’s re-election team. Before he had worked as a consultant for Vice President Biden. The next year, he became a partner at AKPD Message & Media and ran the firm’s office in Washington, D.C.

Professors and the Director:

Before joining the 2020 campaign, Donilon worked at the University of Delaware as an assistant professor and as the managing director of the Biden Institute, a research and policy centre.

Personal Life:

Donilon has two kids and has a summer home in Narragansett, Rhode Island. This helps him stay close to his New England roots. He has also been to Georgetown basketball games often with Salter, who was his roommate in college.

National Security Adviser:

Tom, Donilon’s older brother, has been involved in politics for a long time. He worked on Biden’s campaign for president in 1988 and was President Obama’s national security adviser from 2010 to 2013. Tom’s wife, Cathy Russell, also worked for the ’88 campaign. During the First term of the Obama organization, she was second lady Jill Biden’s chief of staff.

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