Jack Cardetti, 29
Smooth talker | Director of communications, Missouri Democratic party

At 29, Jack Cardetti jokes that he is the metaphorical gray beard playing on the field with interns. He terms politics the young person’s contact sport.

Cardetti works as director of communications for the Missouri Democratic Party, and he enjoys his job hiring interns and serving as the liaison between politicians and the press. He works with Democrats, legislators and interest groups to craft coordinated messages to help win elections.

“Part of the reason that makes this job so fascinating is reporters and politicians are some of the smartest, hardest working people,” he says.

Raised in St. James, Cardetti attended MU, where he majored in political science and ended his collegiate career with a 2.6 grade point average.

“I’ve literally not hired interns before if they have too good of a GPA,” he says.“I would always take somebody who’s street smart rather than book smart. (Book smart) is what doctors and lawyers are for.”

Bret Bender, former deputy communications director, attests to Cardetti’s hiring techniques. “I’ve never met a man so proud of his own 2.6 GPA,” Bender says. “But throughout the campaign, everyone told me how fortunate I was to work under the best press person Missouri had to offer.”

Despite his sub-par academic performance, Cardetti started working in Attorney General Jay Nixon’s press office in August of 2000. In January 2003, he earned the position of Gov. Bob Holden’s press secretary, and he took his current job in August 2004. Cardetti says he enjoys the perks of daily conversations with the press.

“The most satisfying part of my job is to know what’s going to be in the morning paper before I go to sleep at night,” he says. “There’s no chance to influence if you don’t know.”