About Michael

The first rule of Fight Club is...
— Tyler Durden, “Fight Club”

Michael Wagaman has built his reputation on achieving impossible results in must-win situations for his clients.  He knows what it takes to be successful in even the most difficult of situations and has a proven record of results for California’s most prominent figures and organizations. 

THE LEGISLATURE AND THE INDEPENDENT REDISTRICTING COMMISSION- In 2011, attitudes among California’s new independent redistricting commissioners ranged between wary to outright hostile towards the Legislature.  Michael Wagaman was given the unenviable task of serving as a Legislative liaison to the Commission.  As a result of his efforts, commissioners recently recommended, “The next Commission should consider establishing earlier contact with legislative staffers and to identify potential allies with the legislative leadership."

LEGISLATIVE SUPERMAJORITIES- There was widespread surprise when Democrats won their first supermajorities in both houses of the Legislature since 1883.  Speaker John A. Pérez, however, was not surprised when Michael informed him that Sharon Quirk-Silva had been elected— it was exactly according to the plan Michael formulated  six months earlier— the day after opponent Chris Norby publicly denigrated the impact and importance of Title IX in front of women's soccer gold medalist Brandi Chastain.  In 2016, Michael followed-up, this time helping both houses reach supermajorities as both a consultant to both Senate Democrats and Assemblymember Sharon Quirk-Silva. 

MISSION INITIATIVE IMPOSSIBLE- In 2012 the press wrote that Governor Jerry Brown had not left enough time to gather signatures for his tax initiative after merging two prior proposals.  In 2010 the media said the California Congressional delegation had submitted the signatures for their redistricting initiative too late to make the ballot.  In 2008 journalists wrote that Speaker Fabian Núñez did not have enough signatures to get his term limits initiative on the ballot.  But all three initiatives qualified for the ballot—thanks in no small part to Michael’s efforts.  Wagaman Strategies has continued that winning tradition, going 6 for 6 on statewide initiative campaigns in 2016.  

CALIFORNIA DEMOCRATIC PARTY- In 2002 thousands of hours were still being wasted copying blurry maps from paper Thomas Guides to accomplish the simple goal of directing walkers to their precincts.  Michael said enough was enough.  He created the first digital database of individual maps for all of the state's 30,000+ precincts so they could be printed on demand.  Less time spent on the copier equals more time spent talking to voters. 

CALIFORNIA EARNED INCOME TAX CREDIT- After California adopted its Earned Income Tax Credit (CalEITC) Michael joined efforts to promote the state's new effort to put money directly into the pockets of its most needy.  First he coordinated discussions between nearly a dozen state agencies to agree on how best to identify areas most in need of outreach.  Then he developed tools to help target those efforts including developing an interactive heat map and free tax preparation lookup

SECRETARY OF STATE- Fresh from the 2000 Florida debacle, states spent millions of dollars on new voting systems.  There was only one problem: Many voters did not trust these new systems and feared their vote could be hacked.  Michael was tasked to find solutions for California, including developing the nation’s first paper audit trail standards and Election Day voting system testing program. 

Michael founded WAGAMAN STRATEGIES with the same simple goal: Fighting for and alongside his clients to find creative solutions to achieve their objectives. 

Michael has previously served as Chief Deputy Director and Interim Director for the California State Assembly's Speaker’s Office of Member Services, State Field Director for Assembly Democrats, Elections Analyst for the California Secretary of State, Director of Targeting and Data Services for the California Democratic Party and Analyst for the non-partisan Statewide Database at the Institute of Governmental Studies, UC Berkeley.

DID YOU KNOW: The “WAGS” in our company logo has special meaning.  It is a nickname Michael picked up at UC Berkeley when he was the chief strategist for Student Action, helping the student political party sweep the campus’ five Executive Offices for the first time in more than 20 years.  WAGS has followed him through the years and how he is most commonly known in the halls of the Capitol today.