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Alumnus Helps Raise Millions for Presidential Campaign

Titan Kyle Rush Moves From Fundraising for Obama to The New Yorker

Sept. 23, 2013

Young man in blue open-necked shirt

Kyle Rush

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His hobby was computers. His interest was politics. So it's no surprise that Kyle Rush '08 (B.A. political science) managed to find a way to merge those interests shortly after graduating from Cal State Fullerton.

As deputy director of front-end web development for the 2012 Obama for America campaign, Rush helped maintain the online fundraising platform that brought in $690 million.

"I worked on the campaign from June 2011 until the end of January 2013," he said. "We worked 10 hour days, seven days a week but what an incredible experience."

Rush got a taste for D.C. after completing two summers as a Cal State DC Scholar. In 2007, he worked for the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The second year, he worked for a company called DCS, creating websites for Democratic members of the House of Representatives.

"What helped me break into D.C. was the networking I was able to do while I was a student," he said. "That opened a lot of doors."

His favorite CSUF class was on constitutional law and civil liberties, taught by Bert Buzan, professor of political science.

"Constitutional law fascinates me," he said. "In that class, I could see how each political party developed its positions on different issues."

Upon graduation, he worked for DCS and Blue State Digital, a group that develops websites and online strategies for progressive candidates. Then the Obama for America campaign called.

"They needed some engineering help with their online fundraising platforms, so I went to Chicago," he said. "We started with about 30 people and ended up with more than 400. We were pretty content because we didn't think Obama was in any real danger of losing the election."

"After Obama lost that first debate, our attitudes changed," he said. "We got nervous. Obama's numbers dropped substantially and Romney was surging. There was real concern that we could lose."

Rush's job became increasingly important. Romney's campaign was well-funded while the Obama campaign needed more money.

"We were bringing in some pretty big numbers in terms of online donations," he said. "For that reason, it was critical that the architecture of the system could support a variety of platforms. We had people donating through Macs, PCs, iPhones, you name it. We didn't want to miss anyone.

"Events like the Democratic National Convention put a lot of pressure on us. People get excited and want to donate. You didn't want any bugs to mess up browsers. We were reaching peaks of $3 million an hour. Even if we were down for 10 minutes, that could be a loss of hundreds of thousands of dollars. Our system had to be able to handle the high load times. Fortunately, it did."

Today, Rush lives and works in New York as a technology developer for The New Yorker, redesigning websites and identifying an application that will give the magazine control of its accounts and websites and implementing a pay wall.

"It's quite a difference from the Obama campaign," he said. "I've never worked in publishing before and especially not with the long-form content that is the hallmark of The New Yorker.

"I'm working in a field that's more removed from my major but I do believe my education prepared me for this as well," he said. "At Fullerton, I learned to act like an adult. I developed critical thinking skills and learned how maneuver in periods of change and high pressure. I was fortunate that I was able to serve as a resident adviser in the dorms and participate as a DC Scholar. Both of these experiences offered me with perspectives that I use even today."

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