David Barklage, Senior Partner
David Barklage is one of the most winning consultants in the Midwest. He has helped raised millions of dollars for candidates, and managed or consulted over 300 candidate and issue campaigns. He has advised candidates from Alaska to Tennessee and Kentucky. Barklage, named as the Quarterback for the Missouri GOP, regularly appears on local and national radio and television, and speaks several times per year on policy and politics for groups and organizations throughout the country.
“It establishes Barklage as the undisputed top Republican consultant in the state.” – Dave Drebes, St. Louis Business Journal
Barklage also serves as a consultant or advisor to several Fortune 500 companies, various trade associations, and numerous elected officials. He has developed an extensive network of various politicians in both parties, trade organizations, business groups and corporate interests to bring money, extensive grassroots, and coalition building to bolster any issue or campaign which he is involved.
He is currently the President of The Barklage Company, a firm specializing on strategy for business, public policy and grassroots lobbying. He also serves as Senior Partner of Barklage and Knodell, a full-service political consulting firm that specializes in vendor management, planning, message development, research and strategy for candidates, committees, trade associations and issue campaigns.
Barklage has an extensive business background. He has owned multiple companies, developed several commercial properties and ran retail businesses with over 100 employees before building private and political consulting businesses. He has also co-owned media properties including radio stations.
“Then he returned to his first calling – this time as a Republican election advisor.” – St. Louis Business Journal, March 2010
Barklage’s first role managing campaigns was for United States Congressman Bill Emerson at age 21. Emerson won his third term and at the time was the only Republican to ever do so from southeast Missouri.
Barklage has now won more statewide candidate, legislative office and ballot issues than any other consultant in Missouri history. He has served as an Advisor and General Consultant to at least one statewide campaign in every cycle for the last 14 years. He has two of the top three winning percentages in Missouri history.
He was hired by the Missouri Association of REALTORS® to serve as the General Consultant to pass a prohibition of transfer taxes on real estate and property. The Constitutional Amendment won by the highest percentage of any initiative since 1932 and had the second highest passage overall in Missouri history at 83.7%.
Barklage was also a General Consultant for Proposition 3, a Constitutional Amendment that increased transportation funding by barring funds from being diverted to other government agencies for non-transportation purposes. The passage of Prop 3 allowed the largest bonding program for transportation in Missouri history. The campaign garnered the third largest winning percentage in Missouri history and the largest margin ever for a revenue measure.
Additionally Barklage served as the General Consultant to defeat the public financing of elections dubbed Welfare for Politicians. The issue was defeated by the second largest margin in Missouri history, even though Barklage was outspent by almost 10 to 1 by national groups.
He has led, participated and won numerous additional ballot initiatives and referendums including two St. Louis Special School District funding increases in 2006 and 2012, Proposition E 2012, Banning Health Care Exchanges; Proposition C 2010, the Prohibition of Transfer Taxes; Proposition 3 2006 Ending diversion of Transportation dollars, Proposition A 2000, Welfare for Politicians and public financing of campaigns.
Missouri has elected only one Republican to statewide office in each of the last three election cycles. Barklage was the General Consultant on all three.
Barklage served as the General Consultant to Lt. Governor Peter Kinder in 2004, winning the Lt. Governor office for Republicans for the first time in over 20 years. In 2008, he ran Lt. Governor Peter Kinder’s re-election campaign, who was the only Republican elected statewide in Missouri and one of the few in the country. Again in 2012, Kinder was the only Republican to win statewide with Barklage serving as General Consultant.
In 2010, Barklage served as General Consultant to Tom Schweich when he challenged the incumbent State Auditor. Schweich was the first challenger to defeat an incumbent State Auditor and was the first challenger to defeat a statewide incumbent in a general election in almost thirty years.
Barklage has also had a significant role in re-making Missouri’s congressional landscape. He pulled a surprise victory in 2008for Congressman Blaine Luetkemeyer, decisively winning a crowded Republican field after outside groups spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to defeat him in the primary. Congressman Luetkemeyer went on to win the general election even though he was outspent by his opponent backed by millions in national Democrat money. Luetkemeyer was one of a handful of Republican open congressional seats winners in 2008.
In 2013, Barklage served as a general consultant to Jason Smith who won the Special election by over 67% to fill the vacated 8th district seat of Jo Ann Emerson, who replaced Bill Emerson after his death.
Barklage is credited in helping Republicans take majorities in both the Missouri House and Senate after being in the Minority for over 50 years.
He was hired as the Executive director of the Senate Republican Campaign Committee and later founded the Senate Majority Fund in 1998. Since the inception of the Majority Fund, Republicans grew from a small minority to the first Republican Senate majority in over 50 years. Republicans previously held the majority only twice, once for two years and another time for four years. Republicans have now held the majority for longer than any time in history, 12 years. Barklage built the greatest majority in history with three-quarters of the Senators being Republicans, representing for the first time all or part of every county (114) in the State of Missouri including the City of St. Louis.
In the tough 2008 campaign cycle, as Executive Director of the Majority Fund, Barklage won every single special election and every contested general election gaining 3 seats in the Missouri Senate representing to one of the largest legislative gains in the nation for Republicans that year. He totaled 15 for 15 wins in the tough 2008 election cycle and has not lost a targeted senate seat in 8 years.
He built the Missouri House Republican Campaign Committee (HRCC) into a million dollar committee, modernized it and set the stage for winning the first Republican House Majority in Missouri in over 52 years. Barklage won 3 seats for Republicans than Democrats controlled since statehood in 1821.
Barklage received national attention for his efforts in a major federal investigation of voter fraud covered by national media including Fox News and the Wall Street Journal. As a result of the federal investigation and the national news coverage, decades of voter fraud in Southeastern Missouri all but ended.
Barklage has worked in government on the municipal, state and federal level. He interned for Representative Russell Brockfield, Minority Leader in the Missouri House. He served on the staff of United States Congressman Bill Emerson and later on the staff of Representative John A. Sharp.
Barklage was hired by the first Republican Pro Tem of the Senate, Peter Kinder, to the role of Chief of Staff and as chief strategist to Senate leadership. He worked with a team to reorganize the Senate where he uncovered massive fraud and waste. He built a team to reform the senate administration to eliminate corruption, reduce committees and staff and cut significant costs. The Republican Senate with a one vote majority was able to pass significant reforms and legislation protecting Missourians rights and blocked the largest tax increase in Missouri history.
Barklage attended Cape Girardeau Central High School and was elected Student Body President. As a Senior in college at Southeast Missouri State University, Barklage was elected Student Body President and to the Cape Girardeau City Council while serving as Campaign Manager to U.S. Congressman Bill Emerson.
In his first run for public office, Barklage was the top vote getter in a field of nine candidates including two incumbents. Barklage was elected to two-terms and served eight years on the Cape Girardeau City Council. He served on the Board of Directors of the Missouri Municipal league and served on multiple policy committees of the National League of Cities. At the time of his election, Barklage was the youngest in state history to serve as a citywide elected official.
He helped write and pass charter reforms including term limits, ethics reform, public debt disclosure and financial reserve requirements. He took on corruption and conflict of interest issues of other Council members and investigated fraudulent accounting by the cable industry. He served on the Charter Reform Commission, The Investment Board and the Cable TV Committee.
Barklage has been active in numerous community organizations, civic committees, Chambers of Commerce and his church.
Robert Knodell, Partner
“To put it simply, Knodell wins races. He has an unmatched record in Republican Senate primaries and has won several tough general elections. He spent some time running HRCC and is now one of the most sought after consultants for new candidates in Missouri. More than anything else, he is respected for his honesty and the ability of other people in the Capitol to trust his word.” – Missouri Times Top 100, August 2013
Robert Knodell, a native of Poplar Bluff, Missouri, has been working on Republican campaigns in staff, volunteer and advisory roles since high school. At B&K, Robert primarily works to train, equip, and help elect Republicans to the State House, State Senate, and other offices.
Most recently, Robert served as General Consultant in Congressman Jason Smith’s successful Special Election in Missouri’s Eighth District earlier this year. Additionally, he has played key roles in the campaigns and elections of a number of State Senators and Representatives serving today in Jefferson City.
Before joining B&K, Robert served as Political Director of the Missouri Republican Party. In that role, he worked extensively with Missouri Republican elected officials and committee members, and coordinated grassroots campaign training sessions across the state.
Robert also served for four years as Executive Director of the Missouri House Republican Campaign Committee. During his time at HRCC, Republicans made historic gains in the State House. Robert led the campaign team that propelled the Missouri House GOP to a then-unprecedented 106-57 majority in that chamber. Robert’s financial education background helped him manage a campaign budget in excess of $3.5 million per election cycle.
Prior to his service at HRCC, Robert served as Chief of Staff to the Missouri House Speaker Pro Tem and Budget and Policy Advisor to Missouri House Budget Chairman, among other positions. During the mid-2000′s, he was a key policy development staffer for the Missouri House Republican Majority Caucus.
Robert has extensive ties to the conservative grassroots community in Missouri, and has taught in candidate and campaign training schools across the country. He has mentored dozens of campaign staffers and enjoys helping young people launch successful careers in politics.
Robert resides in Holts Summit, Missouri, with his wife Mandy, who are expecting their first child in December. He maintains his primary office in Jefferson City.
An avid and obnoxious sports fan, Robert loves spending the precious little free time he has watching or attending college football games, NBA games, and PGA tournaments. And he’s a devoted follower of southern cooking and culture, from shrimp and grits, ribs and Catfish to Billy Graham, Elvis, Faulkner, and Jimmy Buffett. Favorite band: Zac Brown Band. Favorite Bible verse: Philippians 4:13. Retirement Plan: Owning and running a seafood shack on the Gulf Coast.
You can follow Robert on Twitter at @RobertKnodell.
Michael Hafner, Vice President – Government Affairs
“Hafner is an operative with an eye on results. He is involved in as many contentious public policy issues as anyone in the state and is extremely well connected. While he has one of the biggest jobs of any operative in the state already, he also has one of the brightest futures of anyone on this list.” – Missouri Times Top 100, August 2013
With broad experience in Missouri and around the country, Mike Hafner has earned a reputation as a trusted and authoritative voice on political and public policy issues.
At B&K, Mike specializes in government relations, public affairs, political campaign management, grassroots and grasstops mobilization, economic development initiatives, and legislative lobbying.
In a very short career, Mike has been able to make an incredible impact on high-profile political campaigns and legislative initiatives. He has held numerous leadership roles in prominent campaigns ranging from the State House to Congress and the White House.
Prior to joining B&K, Mike served as Director of Government Relations for the Regional Business Council, a consortium of the Presidents and CEOs of 100 of the St. Louis bi-state region’s largest employers. At the RBC, Mike led the Governance Initiative where he advocated for business-friendly public policies and identified areas where CEO involvement could impact legislative policy development in Missouri and Illinois.
In 2007, Mike moved to Little Rock to work on Governor Mike Huckabee’s Presidential campaign prior to his meteoric rise as eventual winner of the Iowa caucuses. In his role for Gov. Huckabee, Mike directed campaign teams in the “Super Tuesday” states, in addition to other early voting states. After Gov. Huckabee’s departure from the race, Mike served as Coalitions Director for the Missouri Republican Party for the 2008 cycle.
Born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri, Mike holds a B.A. in English and a Certificate in Business Administration from St. Louis University. He continues to have an active role in numerous community and civic organizations. Like Norman Maclean, Mike believes a person should never be late for three things: church, work, and fishing. He is also an avid college football fan where he can be found most fall weekends cheering on Mizzou or Notre Dame. Mike also believes the St. Louis Cardinals will win eleven more World Series rings before the Cubs win their next one.
You can follow Mike on Twitter at @MichaelFHafner, where he opines on all things political, business and economic development issues, and sports.
Dana Baker, Project Manager
Dana Baker is a Project Manager at Barklage & Knodell and provides key staff support by managing political and corporate client relations, and serving as the team’s scheduler and event coordinator.
Prior to joining B&K, Dana served as a key figure in Missouri Lt. Governor Peter Kinder’s 2012 re-election campaign. Governor Kinder was the only Republican elected statewide in Missouri during the 2012 cycle.
Before her move to the political world, Dana worked as Digital Marketing Specialist for Ronnoco Coffee where she managed the company’s online presence and provided support to the sales staff.
Dana received her B.A. in Advertising from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX.
Dana was born and raised in Warrenton, MO and resides in St. Louis. She is active in community organizations such as the Junior League of St. Louis and the Young Zoo Friends Advisory Board.
Dana enjoys the good, the bad and the ugly: good books, bad jokes and ugly Christmas sweaters. Her Pinterest boards are a compilation of tantalizing recipes and photos of puppies. Lots of puppies.