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DAY OF THE BIRTHDAY: John Dunagan, president of Highland Advocacy Group

How/where are you celebrating your birthday and with whom? “I’ll be celebrating my birthday at home with my lovely wife and three awesome kids who are ages 7, 9 and 12.”

How did you get your start in your career? “I got my start in politics when I was 8 years old working on my dad’s campaigns for county legislature in New York. I’d pore over voter registration books (yes, paper ones!), stuff mailboxes with literature and help put up lawn signs throughout the district. After graduating from college, I worked for the New York state Senate for over three years. That was my professional start and gave me an appreciation for grassroots engagement and what really counts in politics. It also helped me sharpen many skills I still use today.”

What’s an interesting book/article you’re reading during coronavirus social distancing? And why? “I’m reading David Brooks’ ‘Second Mountain.’ He’s one of my favorite writers and social observers. The book forces you to examine your commitments, values, and choices and then to think hard about what lies ahead. It’s fabulous. I can’t recommend it highly enough.”

What’s a trend going on in the U.S. or abroad that doesn’t get enough attention? “The damaging impact of the obvious and intentional audience segmentation and subsequent content curation, driven by market and audience research of the three major cable ‘news’ networks. Just look at the choices the three networks serve up at 9 p.m. and 10 p.m. each night. It’s the farthest thing from journalism. You can’t let your kids watch it. It’s really sad. It doesn’t nourish you in any way. It is very difficult to find objective information anywhere on television. This rapidly accelerating race to the bottom is only serving — along with other forces — to further divide our society.”

How’s the Trump presidency going? “Well … not so hot at the moment. The Covid-19 pandemic has been an obvious challenge, and he also swings through some opportunities to take advantage of good news. Having said that, given all the work I do at the state and local level, the response to the Covid-19 crisis by governors — of both parties — throughout the U.S. has been a mixed bag, as well. There is time between now and Election Day for voters to grow concerned about other issues.”

What’s a fun fact that people in Washington might not know about you? “Baseball’s my game and my allegiance remains with my New York Yankees. I’ve attended seven of their playoff games in person since 1995, including the [Oct. 9, 1996] Jeffrey Maier game and the 1996 World Series clincher. They are 7-0 in such games. Coincidence?”

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