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Bill Zimmerman is one of the nation’s most experienced political media consultants. In the 1980’s, he specialized in candidate races, creating advertising for U.S. Senate races in California, Colorado and Pennsylvania, gubernatorial races in Florida, Arizona and New Mexico, Congressional races in Illinois, Maryland and Connecticut, and mayoral races in New York and Chicago. His successful clients included Sen. Tim Wirth, Sen. Gary Hart, Gov. Toney Anaya, Mayor Harold Washington and Reps. Lane Evans and Sam Gejdenson.
In 1988, Bill shifted his focus to ballot initiatives, providing both advertising services and campaign management. That year, he managed the campaign on behalf of California’s Proposition 103, which won despite opposition expenditures of $99 million. The initiative established the state’s first rate regulation for automobile insurance, and created the new statewide office of Insurance Commissioner. A national consumer group estimated that Prop 103 saved ratepayers over $60 billion in its first 20 years of enforcement.
Since then Zimmerman & Markman has won historic initiative victories, including passage of the nation’s first physician-assisted suicide law in Oregon in 1994 and the nation’s first medical marijuana law in California in 1996. Between 1996 and 2008, working with the Drug Policy Alliance, Bill managed 17 ballot initiatives in 10 states that attempted to reform various aspects of our nation’s failed drug laws. Thirteen of the 17 were victorious.
In 2000, Bill managed California’s successful Proposition 36 campaign providing treatment instead of incarceration for many nonviolent drug possession offenders. Since then, 35,000 offenders are diverted from jail annually, saving taxpayers hundreds of millions per year. In 2004, Bill managed California’s Proposition 63, which created a 1% surtax on income over $1 million and uses the resulting annual revenues of $1 billion for community mental health programs benefiting the homeless and at-risk school children.
Between 2002 and 2008, Bill was a strategic communications consultant to MoveOn.org. Zimmerman & Markman created MoveOn.org’s initial advertising against the war in Iraq. In 2004, Bill managed MoveOn.org’s $23 million campaign to defeat George Bush, while Zimmerman & Markman created virtually all of the advertising used in that effort. In 2006, Bill coordinated the “Caught Red-Handed” advertising campaign produced by MoveOn.org that helped Democrats regain control of the House of Representatives.
Bill Zimmerman holds a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago, and taught briefly there and at Brooklyn College. As an activist in the early 1970’s, he helped lead the Indochina Peace Campaign and Medical Aid for Indochina. In 1973, he organized the airlift of food that broke the FBI siege at Wounded Knee, which was occupied by the American Indian Movement. He is the author of Troublemaker: A Memoir from the Front Lines of the Sixties, which chronicles those events. He’s written two other books and numerous magazine articles and newspaper op-ed pieces on politics, elections, and foreign and public policy. He was the founder and Chairman (1981-1993) of Medical Aid for El Salvador, an international humanitarian relief organization. Bill has won CLIO and Pollie Awards for his political advertising.