The logging town of Walker didn't have but one and a half square miles to it when Jack Meeks was growing up. But it had a Teenage Republicans club that he organized himself at age 14. Now 56, he's been a Party man all his life.
Tony Sutton calls Meeks a master grassroots strategy man. "On campaigns big and small," he says, Meeks "is the guy who puts it all together." If you're a Republican interested in an elected office in Minnesota, you're going to cross paths with Meeks. He organized volunteers for both of George W. Bush's statewide campaigns, and he brings a kind of top-down experience to his bottom-up efforts. He was Vin Weber's chief of staff in the U.S. Congress, and when Ronald Reagan was assembling his transition team in '79, Meeks was asked on board. He served on the Republican National Committee for 13 years.
In a party sometimes split between social and economic conservatives, Meeks is both. Last year he signed a two-page letter shipped to state delegates urging them to turn their backs on McCain and Giuliani: "Between them, they have supported tax hikes, free speech restrictions, amnesty of illegal immigrants, gay marriage, and abortion."
Not a man to waste an opportunity, last year Meeks joined forces again with his wife, Annette, and their old comrade Weber to launch Twin Cities Strategies, a public relations firm that woos clients looking to get a message out in the blur of the Republican National Convention. He's also president and CEO of the Walker Group, a consulting firm he founded in 1992.
Meeks was a Romney man until the bitter end—he served as Minnesota co-chair to the Romney campaign. He's had his differences with Governor Pawlenty—most notably over the expansion of gambling in Minnesota, which Meeks opposes. All the same, he told the Star Tribune in 2005 that Pawlenty is "the best governor in my lifetime."