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What We Do at 50 State

  • Strategy

  • Intelligence

  • Public Affairs

  • Issue Advocacy

  • Venue Creation

  • Public Relations

With Washington, D.C. mired in partisan gridlock, companies and interest groups find it more and more difficult to achieve their policy goals at the federal level. The real action – and opportunity – is at the state level.

50 State brings a unique perspective to issue management, advocacy, and relationship development; having worked with governors, mayors, and their staffs and overseen political campaigns, issue-advocacy efforts, and policy development in both parties and in all 50 states.

We provide insight into how states make decisions – and how to influence those decisions – regardless of what party is in office.

50 State provides issue advocacy, public relations, and public affairs strategies, as well as high-level political intelligence, to those who do business with, or are regulated by, state government.

Who We Are

Phil Cox

Founding Partner

Phil Cox is co-founder of 50 State, a bipartisan, state-focused government and public affairs firm serving corporations, non-profits, and national trade associations; founding partner at GuidePost Strategies, a federal government and public affairs firm; and Chairman of the Board of IMGE, a digital consulting and marketing firm. Phil also serves on the Board of Directors for the Senate Leadership Fund and American Crossroads and is a member of the Public Policy Council for the Michael J. Fox Foundation, which is a leader in the fight against Parkinson’s disease.

In 2009, Phil served as Campaign Manager for Bob McDonnell’s successful campaign for governor of Virginia. In 2010, he served as a consultant to the Republican Governors Association (RGA), where he managed RGA’s investments in Florida, Pennsylvania and a handful of other states. From 2011-2014, Cox served as Executive Director of the RGA, where he served as a senior political adviser to the nation’s 31 Republican Governors and directed more than $250 million in support to candidates in all 50 states. In 2015-2016, Cox founded and directed America Leads, the presidential Super-PAC supporting New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. In 2018, Phil ran Independent Expenditures on behalf of candidates for governor and U.S. Senate, including the lone gubernatorial pick up of the cycle in Alaska.

The Boston Globe called him “a force for the GOP”, The Washington Times, “A Republican Kingmaker”, and Politico named him one of its “50 Politicos to Watch.” He is a graduate of the University of Virginia, and lives in McLean, Virginia, with his wife and two children.

Colm O’Comartun

Founding Partner

Colm O’Comartun served as the Executive Director of the Democratic Governors Association from 2011-2014. Colm served as Director of the Governor’s Office for Governor Martin O’Malley, after serving in various positions for him as both Governor and Mayor of Baltimore. Prior to that, he worked at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, and as Director of Alumni Programs at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. Colm also served as Director of The Irish Institute of Boston College, where he worked to implement the Good Friday Agreement. He is a graduate of University College Dublin, and lives in Baltimore, Maryland with his two children.

Roshan Patel

Partner

Roshan Patel joined 50 State, LLC after spending four years as the National Finance Director for the Democratic Governors Association. Prior to his state focused campaign work, he held positions on the US Senate campaigns for Senators Ben Cardin (MD) and Tom Udall (NM). During the 2010 election cycle, Roshan managed the Mid-Atlantic Region/Corporate Political Action Committee fundraising for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. Roshan graduated from Mississippi State University in 2002, with a Bachelors in Business Administration and spent four years in corporate finance before getting involved in politics.

Marie Sanderson

Partner

Marie Sanderson is currently Partner at 50 State, LLC, Founding Partner of GuidePost Strategies, a federal strategic communications and public affairs firm; Founding Principal of Cardinal Group Policy, a policy entity that works with policy makers, think tanks, candidates, and elected officials across the country; and a Senior Advisor at IMGE, a full-service digital marketing agency. In 2017, in addition to her professional roles, Marie was “Sherpa” for USUN Ambassador Nikki Haley, an unpaid position with the US Presidential Transition, preparing and guiding the current Ambassador for her nomination to be confirmed by the US Senate.

Marie was Policy Director for the Republican Governors Association (RGA) and the Republican Governors Public Policy Committee (RGPPC) for five years facilitating and advocating for best practices and good policy in both state and federal policy to governors, candidates, their staff, think tanks, Congress, the Administration, and other political organizations. In January 2006, Marie began working for Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour as a policy and budget advisor and Director of Federal Policy. Prior to her role in the state, served United States Senator and Appropriations Chairman Thad Cochran in 2003 in Washington, DC, where she served as a Legislative Assistant and Deputy Press Secretary.

Marie was graduated summa cum laude from Mississippi State University. In 2002, she was awarded a Rotary International Ambassadorial Scholarship to Brisbane, Australia, where she obtained her MBA from the University of Queensland. Marie has served as Executive Director of Bully Bloc, the Political Action Committee (PAC) advocating for Mississippi State University, as well as on on several boards. She was recently appointed by Governor Phil Bryant to the Mississippi Arts Commission, and she and her husband, Brian, have two sons and one daughter.

Larissa Martin

Vice President

Larissa Martin has been with 50 State since its inception at the end of 2014. She brings over a decade of experience working with elected officials on both the state and federal level. She has successfully navigated a broad range of political, policy and legislative issues facing corporations, associations and nonprofits across multiple industries.

From 2010-2014, she served as Chief Operating Officer at the Republican Governors Association (RGA). In this role, she worked closely with senior staff from all Republican Governors offices throughout the country and their campaigns.

Prior to joining the RGA, she was at the Republican Party of Florida working on state senate campaigns from 2007-2010.

Larissa is also a Principal at GuidePost Strategies, LLC where she provides strategic advice and helps clients navigate the Administration. She also recently served as Deputy Director of Operations on the 2016 Trump Transition team.

Larissa grew up in Bloomfield Hills, MI., and attended Florida State University, where she earned a Bachelor of Science in Political Science and Criminology and received a Master’s in Applied American Politics & Policy. She resides in Washington, DC., with her husband, Luke and her daughter, Ella.

Ian Walton

Vice President

Ian Walton began his career in government and politics in high school after being selected to serve as Speaker Tom Foley’s page in the US House of Representatives. This formative experience compelled him to develop a career in public service. At both the state and federal level, he has managed top-tier campaigns, helped raise millions of dollars, and served as senior advisor to elected officials. Most recently, Ian served as the Policy Director at the Democratic Governors Association where he worked with Governors, their staff, and the private sector to find solutions to policy issues ranging from health care and biotechnology to infrastructure, energy and everything in between. Ian and his family reside in Washington, DC.

Generra Peck

Managing Director, State Affairs

Generra Peck began her career in public service and politics working for former Virginia governor Bob McDonnell. Generra served on the campaign, transition and as a policy and legislative advisor in the McDonnell Administration. She also held posts in the Office of the Secretary of Commerce and Trade. After the McDonnell Administration, Generra was a vice president in the infrastructure and economic development practice at McGuireWoods Consulting, advising clients on policy considerations related to infrastructure and public-private partnerships. Generra most recently served as Policy Director to Ed Gillespie during his 2017 campaign for governor of Virginia. Generra graduated from the University of Richmond and received her master’s degree from the Darden Graduate School of Business at the University of Virginia. She co-teaches the University of Richmond’s Political Campaign Management Professional Certificate program and has been a guest speaker at the Institute of Politics at the Harvard Kennedy School, and the University of Virginia’s Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy, among others. She lives in Richmond, Virginia.

Laine Striegel

Managing Director, State Affairs

Laine Striegel most recently served in the Rauner Administration as the Director of Communications at the Illinois State Board of Education and was Governor Bruce Rauner’s Director of Advance. She was also the Director of Advance for Lieutenant Governor Evelyn Sanguinetti on Governor Rauner’s gubernatorial campaign. Prior to her time in Illinois, Striegel lived in Washington, D.C. where she spent over three years working for Congressman Phil Roe (R-TN), most notably serving as his Military Legislative Aide. She served as Lead Press Advance on Mitt Romney’s Presidential campaign in 2012 and was an aide on John McCain’s 2008 Presidential campaign. Laine was a member of the 58th Presidential Inaugural Committee. She received her B.A. in Government from Wofford College and her M.A. in Public Relations and Corporate Communications from Georgetown University. Laine lives in Jackson, Mississippi with her husband, Timothy.

John Pouland

Vice President of Local Government Affairs and Business Development

John Pouland previously served as Vice President for Government Affairs and Solutions at Philips where he worked with a team across federal, state and local governments on public policy issues and procurement opportunities. Prior to joining Philips, John held a similar position at Siemens where he helped start their government business development program. John served as Regional Administrator of the Southwest for the US GSA during the Clinton administration and was Executive Director of the Texas General Services Commission under then Governor Ann Richards. He began his career as an attorney in private practice in Dallas. John received his J.D. from the University of Houston, and his B.A. from the University of Texas.

Morgan Cahn

Senior Associate

Morgan Cahn has worked for just as many Republicans and as Democrats. She prides herself on her bipartisan record, developing expertise in communications and research. Morgan has worked in political fundraising, on campaigns and in governmental affairs. As a senior associate at 50 State, she provides essential support to the senior team through client support and research. She interned with 50 State in 2016 and after working on Capitol Hill as a contributor for Congressional Quarterly/Roll Call, covering the House and Senate Floors, she returned to the 50 State team in October 2018. Morgan graduated from Birmingham Southern College with a B.A. in Political Science and has been living and working in Washington, D.C. since 2015.

Alex Hickey

Research Associate

Alex Hickey is a research associate at 50 State. She most recently worked as a business journalist covering enterprise technology at Industry Dive, with previous political experience in Virginia politics. She graduated from the University of Virginia in 2017 with degrees in foreign affairs and German interdisciplinary studies and currently lives in Washington D.C.

Catherine Chestnut

Associate

Catherine Chestnut previously served as Deputy Campaign Manager for former Missouri governor Eric Greitens’ 2016 campaign. Catherine ran his inauguration as governor, and has acted as Executive Director to multiple independent political organizations. She graduated from the University of Washington with a B.A. in History.

Kayla Davey

Executive Assistant

Kayla is an experienced client service specialist who supports 50 State executives in providing top-tier services to our clients. Most recently she worked in Project Management capacity for Facilities Resource Group, Inc. and specialized in client relations regarding the procurement and execution of government contracts. Kayla graduated from Clemson University with a B.S. in Marketing and earned her Master’s in Global and Intercultural Studies from Liberty University.

50 State in the News

Reid Wilson, The Hill March 30, 2017

Colm O’Comartun And Phil Cox Look At Democrats Plans For A Big 2018 Offensive

Tags: , , ,

After Republicans won big in successive election cycles to take control of more governorships than at almost any other time in the party’s history, the GOP now finds itself defending a huge number of seats in critical swing states in

Read More
Phillip Stucky, Daily Caller March 30, 2017

Phil Cox On Why Dems Are Targeting GOP Governors In 2018

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Democrats nationwide are especially targeting the 38 Republican governors that are running for re-election during the 2017 and 2018 election years, according to a Thursday report from The Hill. Of those 38 races, only 9 are currently held by Democrats. The rest of

Read More
James Arkin, RealClearPolitics October 4, 2017

GOP Starts To Eye Race To Replace Kaine In Senate

Tags: , ,

Republicans are locked in a tough battle to retain control of the Senate this year, with only a four-seat majority and more than half a dozen GOP incumbents in competitive re-election races. But looming ahead is another potentially high-profile and

Read More

Elena Schneider, Politico March 29, 2016

50 State’s Colm O’Comartun Talks Fallout From ‘Religious Freedom’ Legislation

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“Religious liberty” laws and bathroom bills were supposed to be conservatives’ counterattack to the growing codification of gay and transgender rights, including the Supreme Court’s approval of same-sex marriage. Instead, social conservatives are losing battles over gay, lesbian and transgender

Read More

Reid Wilson, The Hill March 30, 2017

Colm O’Comartun And Phil Cox Look At Democrats Plans For A Big 2018 Offensive

Tags: , , ,

After Republicans won big in successive election cycles to take control of more governorships than at almost any other time in the party’s history, the GOP now finds itself defending a huge number of seats in critical swing states in

Read More
Phillip Stucky, Daily Caller March 30, 2017

Phil Cox On Why Dems Are Targeting GOP Governors In 2018

Tags: ,

Democrats nationwide are especially targeting the 38 Republican governors that are running for re-election during the 2017 and 2018 election years, according to a Thursday report from The Hill. Of those 38 races, only 9 are currently held by Democrats. The rest of

Read More
James Arkin, RealClearPolitics October 4, 2017

GOP Starts To Eye Race To Replace Kaine In Senate

Tags: , ,

Republicans are locked in a tough battle to retain control of the Senate this year, with only a four-seat majority and more than half a dozen GOP incumbents in competitive re-election races. But looming ahead is another potentially high-profile and

Read More

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