Cratic & Shaffer Consulting
By Ken Hare
Chicago Defender Staff Writer
Loyalists of the original Democratic Party can trace its roots back to the early 19th century. Starting in the mid- 1830s, the organization grew in strength for nearly a century but was primarily divided along ethnic lines, namely: the Polish, Italians, and Irish. The Irish, in particular, were being recruited to the Democratic party in return for petty political favors and an occasional elected office, according to the book “Ethnic Chicago” published in 1995.
It wasn’t until Edward Kelly, who served as mayor of Chicago (1933–1947), and Patrick Nash, a political boss, came together and consolidated the democratic base into the brand that became known as the Democratic Machine. Around the same time, both men began inviting Blacks to join the party, thus starting a political migration en masse away from the Republican party. Prior to that, Blacks were loyal Republicans because Lincoln, the Illinois Republican President had emancipated slavery.
The Cook County Democratic Party by-laws states that the party exists to: “Attract, endorse, and support qualified Democratic candidates for office, to develop positions on issues of public importance, to advance the ideals and principles of the Democratic Party, and to seek to improve the lives of the people of Cook County through effective, efficient, and fair government.”
Propelled By Their Passions
Tyjuan Cratic, who is affectionately known as Ty to his closest associates, is a native Chicagoan. He earned his B.A. in Political Science from Southern Illinois University. In 2011, Mr. Cratic joined Alderman Jason Ervin’s 28th Ward staff. He served the Alderman for four years. His first two as Communications Director, and then as Chief of Staff for the remaining two. “I really enjoyed working with Alderman Ervin and the ward residents and business owners,” says Ty. “During my tenure, I was able to streamline some city processes, which effectively sped up the services that flowed through the Alderman’s office that residents came to rely upon.”
Christopher Shaffer, who grew up in Chatham, switched his major to Political Science after working on John Kerry’s presidential campaign in 2004. While in attendance at Kent State University, Ohio; Christopher secured one of the few coveted positions to study abroad in Florence, Italy. “It was one of the best decisions I ever made,” he stated.
This paved the way for a series of synchronistic encounters that led Christopher from Americorp to the Red Cross to the Lieutenant Governor’s office where he eventually met Tyjuan Cratic. “I remember when I met Ty, I could tell his political IQ was high. A lot of people our age don’t know anything about history. You can’t understand politics if you have no sense of history,” Christopher said.
These young visionaries, both of whom happen to be under 40, soon realized the benefits of joining forces. The two formally incorporated as Cratic & Shaffer Consulting in 2014. Today the firm is marketed as the only all African-American political consulting and fundraising firm in Cook County.
Core Offerings, Principle Values
From raising public awareness and influencing policy makers to communicating straight to voters on critical issues, Cratic & Shaffer Consulting is at the forefront of public opinion, relationship building, and devising winning campaigns. The two credit their strong ethics and hard work to being inspired by the many veteran political activists and consultants that came before them, such as Al Kindle, Tony Land, George Blase and Del Marie Cobb (Hillary Clinton’s Illinois Press Secretary).
“There’s a host of political officials who we rely on for trusted guidance on how to navigate the diverse political landscapes in Illinois. We might not exist without their hard work and sacrifices,” both men concurred. “Because of them, we stand on solid ground.”
When Karen Yarbrough, Cook County Recorder of Deeds, was asked: How she bridged the gap between the youth of Cratic & Shaffer Consulting and their ability to deliver results? She responded: “I thought their youthfulness was a plus. They had the energy, the desire to be successful, and [the] willingness to work hard to deliver results.”
According to the American Association of Political Consultants (AAPC), a national organization that has over 1,300 registered consultants, political consultants can do “everything or specialize.” Their services can be offered to a broad range of clients. Moreover, these services can span the public, private, academic, local, county, and state arenas. Partner, Christopher Shaffer said, “C & S Consulting will focus on fundraising and political consulting, which can take the form of event planning, office organization, and especially communications management, at the client level.”
Chicago’s political landscape is brimming with change as new voices have begun to emerge, as witnessed in this past March 15th primaries. Alderman Brookins sees great value in a Black political consulting firm. He stated that “..If [African-Americans] are to establish political independence we must have qualified African-American fundraisers and advisors.” Brookins contends that Blacks “communicate differently” and Black politicians need C & S’s vital services “…to translate [our] message so it may be properly heard.”
The Future Is IT
To effectively prepare for the challenges that lie ahead, Cratic and Shaffer have partnered with an international technology company. Using their proprietary software, C & S Consulting will have the cutting edge ability to analyze huge data sets to predetermine the outcomes of various strategies. “This IT partnership will enable our clients to not only predict, with a certain level of accuracy their strategic options but the strategy of their opponents as well,” Ty stated.
Jim Allen, Communications Director at the Board of Elections, presented data that showed at least 145 races on the Democratic side up for grabs this last election cycle. Annually, there are 50,000 public elections held in the United States and one billion dollars spent on campaign communications, according to AAPC. Situated between a traditional past and a future driven by technology, Cratic & Shaffer Consulting are definitely poised to bring the two together and become the new shepherds of democracy.
“I expect as they continue honing their skill-set, they will be a hotly sought after commodity, producing the results their clients want,” Karen Yarbrough said.
Photo Credits – Oscar Garza