Talk:A Biography of Jon Carson, Executive Director of Organizing for Action

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Areas of Research

Jon Carson has already made significant contributions to the American political scene and his role in US government will become more important in coming years. For journalists who are interested in following Carson's career, the following sections contain areas of research on Carson's life and career that can be expanded in more detail and can serve as a starting point for further investigation. If you have additional information on any of these topics or have found any errors in the existing biography, please contact Hugh Pickens at hughpickensATgmailDOTcom.

Early Life and Education

What is Carson's Date of Birth? Are there any details available on Carson growing up on a farm and in a small town environment? Where did Carson's interest in politics come from and when did it begin? Did the fifteen years that his father spent on the Westby school board spark Carson's interest in politics? How did Carson get involved in UW campus politics? What were the tuition issues at UW?

Engineering Background

Carson's education in civil engineering seems an unusual background for election campaigns and goes against traditional stereotypes of both engineers and politicians but Carson takes pride in his engineering background and has remarked that he doesn't have much use for political science graduates who don't know how to crunch the numbers. In what ways has Carson's engineering background shaped his political outlook? How much importance does quantatative measurement have in modern campaigns and how important are gut instincts? Is political campaigning moving from an art to an applied science?

Gore Campaign

More Detailed information is needed on the year and a half Carson spent on Gore campaign and how this shaped Carson's knowledge of campaigns. Was Carson a paid campaign worker? What was Carson's role in Iowa caucuses? What did Carson learn on Gore campaign that he applied later on Obama campaign? Was this the genesis of Carson's idea to concentrate on getting delegates from small caucus states in Obama campaign?

Director of the Senate Democratic Caucus for the State of Wisconsin

Need more information on Carson's job as director of the Senate Democratic Caucus for the state of Wisconsin. How did Carson get such an important job at the age of about 25? Was the job a political reward for work on Gore campaign? Who recommended Carson for the position?

Wisconsin Caucus Scandal

Also need more information on Carson's role in what historian Norman K. Risjord calls "one of the worst political scandals in the state's history" and former governor and US senator Gaylord Nelson called "disgusting" and a "damn disgrace" to the state of Wisconsin.

Apparently the ethics issues in the caucus offices had been ongoing for years before Carson's brief tenure with the Senate Caucus office but Carson's role in the caucus scandal has never been clarified and raises a number of questions which have not been answered. Was Carson a whistleblower? Did Carson know about the investigation when he first took the job? How soon after he went to work did Carson realize that ethics violations were taking place in the caucus offices? What was Carson's testimony to prosecutors? What was Carson's immunity arrangement with prosecutors?

Is Carson's testimony under seal? Could an investigative journalist get access to the court records?

South Carolina Campaign

How effective was South Carolina campaign in getting out black vote? Which of the techniques later applied on Obama campaign came out of South Carolina work? What is response to criticism that some voter contact may have alienated some black voters?

New Jersey and Other Campaigns

What are the details of Carson's work in New Jersey after South Carolina job? South Carolina was unsuccessful as far as electing senator and re-electing governor: why was New Jersey successful in terms of taking control of legislature? Contrast similarities and differences with South Carolina. What was Carson's position in New Jersey campaign? Carson says his resume shows over thirty moves - what are other campaigns he has been involved in?

Decision to join Peace Corps

When did Carson become interested in Peace Corps? Had Carson always intended to enter Peace Corps since much younger? Did Carson's college minor in Spanish mean he had always had the intention of entering the Peace Corps or working in the international arena or did Carson just decide to take break from politics for a few years to do something different?

Peace Corps Service

What exactly did Carson and his wife wife do in Peace Corps? Was Carson put into a structured volunteer situation or did he create his own job?

Returned Volunteer Activities

What was Carson's involvement with "Con Agua"? Why is Carson no longer listed on the "Con Agua" web site as a founding member, or as a honorary member? What does Carson think of Peace Corps experience in retrospect? What did Carson learn from Peace Corps? Carson states that cultural sensitivity he learned in Peace Corps helped make him in his later political work: provide specific examples.

Continued Support and Interest in Peace Corps

Has Carson participated in RPCV or third goal activities since his return? Has Carson lobbied from his position inside the White House for increase in Peace Corps budget or lobbied for reforms in the Peace Corps or on any Peace Corps issues like the creation of a Peace Corps Foundation to support the third goal? Did Carson have any involvement in selection process for Aaron Williams to head Peace Corps?

Duckworth Campaign

How did Carson find out about Duckworth job? Who recommended him?

Decision to Join Obama Campaign

How did Carson meet Axelrod? Details of how Carson got involved in Obama campaign. When did Carson get interested in Obama as a candidate?

Plouffe Interest in Leaving 2008 Campaign

When did Carson become aware that Plouffe was interested in leaving campaign after convention and had recommended Carson replace him? How did Carson's responsibilities change after Plouffe decided to reduce his role and delegate more responsibility?

Obama Transition Team

What was Carson's specific role on Obama transition team? Did Carson have anything to do with Obama's plans for addressing global warming? Did Carson have anything to do with Peace Corps Transition Plan?

Decision Not to Keep Field Organization Going After the Election

Why wasn't there greater effort made to keep field organization intact after the election to lobby on behalf of health care bill and other legislation? Was this a strategic mistake or was the decision made that it would be difficult to keep up volunteer enthusiasm after the successful election?

Decision to work at CEQ

How did Carson decide on CEQ Chief of Staff position?

Function of Public Engagement

Respond to criticism of Public Engagement expansion in staff and role? How do you distinguish between Public Engagement role of presenting President in best light and campaigning from within the White House?

Looking Forward to 2012

What will Carson's role be in 2012 re-election campaign? Does Carson expect to step down from White House role at a certain point like Axelrod and rejoin campaign? With appointment of Messina as campaign manager, does this mean the campaign will be a will be top-down in 2012, a more conventional campaign with less emphasis on field operations?

Long Term Ambitions and Goals

What does Carson see himself doing in 15 years? Political advisor or Chief of Staff to a President? Secretary of Energy? Or something completely different in the private sector or heading an NGO?


Volunteerism seems to be a recurring theme in career as a volunteer in early political campaigns, as a PCV, and identifying and finding a role for super-volunteers in Obama campaign. What is Carson's view of the role and strengths of volunteerism in solving society's problems?


Carson met his wife to be during the Gore campaign in 2000. In 2004 Carson and his wife joined the Peace Corps and Carson says in his YouTube interview with University of Wisconsin that he and his wife became engaged while in the Peace Corps. It is not Peace Corps policy to send a couple overseas to the same country unless they are already engaged or married so how did Carson and his wife get posted overseas to the same country if they were not already engaged before they joined the Peace Corps?

Did Carson and his wife marry during or after Peace Corps service.?

Next Step After OFA

On October 28, 2014 Carson announced his resignation from OFA just ahead of the mid-term elections. Carson went to work for Elon Musk's SolarCity, a solar energy firm. How long before Carson re-emerges in another political campaign? Perhaps Carson will be playing a role in the presidential campaign of Bernie Sanders, Joe Biden, or Elizabeth Warren where mobilizing the youth vote, as Carson did in 2008, is sure to one of the keys to a Democratic victory in 2016. Pickens (talk) 07:39, 12 September 2015 (CDT)