Ken Martin has a long history of involvement in campaigns in Minnesota and around the country. It was during his senior year at Eden Prairie High School that Ken started his political activism having been inspired by a Carleton College professor’s campaign for the U.S. Senate. Like many people, Sen. Wellstone inspired Ken to a life of organizing for social justice, electing progressives, and building electoral power.
Ken believes strongly that we can change the world through electoral politics.
To this day Ken believes strongly that we can change the world through electoral politics. As Chairman, Ken has rebuilt the DFL party restoring confidence amongst donors, elected officials and party leaders by showing that the party has a plan and vision to win elections and advance a progressive agenda forward.
Inheriting a party deeply in debt and coming off of bruising defeats in 2010, Ken raised records amount of money both retiring the debt and building successful and permanent campaign infrastructure. Because of this work, the DFL party had one of the most successful election cycles in the party’s history in 2012 – winning majorities back in both legislative chambers, winning the seat in the 8th congressional district, and playing an instrumental role in defeating both divisive constitutional amendments.
Coming into the 2014 election, the DFL had five goals: re-electing Senator Franken, re-electing Governor Dayton, keeping all of our constitutional offices, re-electing our DFL Congressional delegation, and keeping our majority in the State House of Representatives. Under Ken’s leadership the DFL accomplished four out of five of those goals - which in the context of how Democrats fared in other states is quite remarkable.
With the re-election of Senator Al Franken and Governor Mark Dayton, Minnesota became the lone bright spot in one of the most brutal mid-term elections since 1928. Now surrounded by Republican States, Minnesota has become an island of sanity in a sea of red.
Before his election as Chair, Ken spent the past two decades working for several elected officials and managing a variety of issue and election campaigns. In 2010 Ken worked to elect a DFL governor as the Executive Director of WIN Minnesota and then as the Director for Governor Dayton’s recount efforts. In 2008, Ken ran the Vote Yes campaign to pass the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment, a ballot initiative to dedicate funding to Minnesota’s arts, environmental and historical treasures. It is the largest conservation finance measure in the nation to ever become law.
For many years Ken has helped our candidates here in Minnesota and around the country. His extensive campaign experience includes playing leadership roles on the following campaigns: Hatch for Governor in 2006, Kerry for President in 2004, Humphrey for Secretary of State in 2002, Gore/Lieberman Minnesota in 2000 and various other races at the national, state, and local levels. Ken served as the Political Director for the Minnesota DFL in the 1998 cycle and as the Field Director for the Kansas Democratic Party in the 1996 cycle. He has served on the DFL Party as a member of the State Executive Committee, Budget Committee and other Party offices since 1997.
Ken holds a B.A. in Political Science and History from the University of Kansas. He and his wife, Jennifer O’Rourke, currently live in Eagan, MN with their two sons, Sam and James, and spend most of their time attending numerous school and athletic activities.