Bob Babbage is the national managing partner of Babbage Cofounder, a government relations and corporate business development firm.
Babbage Cofounder manages local, state and federal public decisions with major corporations, assisting CEOs, executive teams and organizations through change initiatives and advocacy. Bob has worked for executives from the Global Fortune 100 to America’s Fortune 1000 to numerous regional companies, start-ups and leading associations on all aspects of lobbying, communications and
The Lexington Herald-Leader ranked Bob first among Kentucky lobbyists based on public records in 2005, just as Kentucky Roll Call placed him first for the legislative sessions, 2006-2010 – plus he was listed among prominent state leaders by the Louisville Courier-Journal under, “Who has the power in Kentucky politics?” and the C-J ranked Bob first for the 2008 session, based on public records. He has been called Kentucky’s leading lobbyist in The Huffington Post.
Bob served as Kentucky's elected Secretary of State, 1992-96 and State Auditor, 1988-92. For both offices he led the ticket in statewide vote totals. As Secretary of State, Bob worked with numerous leaders and groups for successful passage of the historic federal Motor Voter legislation, sponsored by Kentucky’s senior U.S. Senator Wendell H. Ford. Bob’s analysis of Motor Voter trends put him on the front page of the Sunday New York Times. In 1994 Bob’s team worked to get Kentucky General Election reported on the internet, a Kentucky first. He co-chaired an election reform commission with the attorney general leading to sweeping vote fraud legislation in concert with state Senate leaders and local officials.
As state auditor Bob conducted accountability audits of the state lottery and local school systems. Local government audits, far behind, were brought up-to-date during the Babbage term, and cases of fraud were aggressively pursued. Bob was a Lexington City Council at-large member, 1981-87, where he sponsored one of the early 911 emergency systems in the nation.
A charter class member of Leadership Lexington, he is the originator of Leadership Kentucky and helped start the Lexington Forum, the Louisville Forum and the Hugh O’Brien Program. He served as assistant to the president of the University of Kentucky and director of the Equine Research Foundation, 1984-86. Bob serves on the ownership group for the Lexington Legends (Single-A) professional league baseball team, a Houston Astros affiliate.
Bob concentrates on executive, agency, legislative, appropriations and public contract decisions. He works with clients on major concerns in the broad area of health care and chronic disease, especially the impact of diabetes and solutions for changing the epidemic. He covers issues ranging from technology to financial services and higher education; from energy efficiency and engineering to manufacturing; from Kentucky’s Fortune 1000 chemical and aluminum production to Louisville’s signature Woodford Reserve and Jack Daniels, a global icon.
Bob also targets special initiatives in the states of Indiana, Ohio and Tennessee, particularly related to innovations, energy efficiency and improved operations in major areas as well as major health care issues and achievements.
Frequently called upon by corporate leaders for model strategic approaches, Bob is an active director in a nationally-linked partnership of some 356 government affairs specialists. Together they have worked on the successful resolution of predatory lending in the states with state attorneys general -- leading to the creation of an industry model code of practice – and the congressional approval of PNTR (Permanent Normal Trade Relations) between the United States and China on behalf of top worldwide companies. Members are often joined together – by Bob – for public policy success.
Bob is widely acknowledged for creating new models for issue management, such as the state-level caucus movement, most notably Leaders for Diabetes Action. Bob chairs the board of Public Precedent, sponsor of a series of health summits in 2008, involving leading journalists, experts, corporate leaders and lawmakers. He initiated the first Study Group for e-Health, a forerunner to the successful state legislation creating Kentucky’s e-Health progress. He donates his “Advocacy Audit” to not-for-profits to clarify and sharpen lobby efforts.
Known for helping create strategic advantages, he ran the “issues war room” for the Tobacco Buyout, a $10 billion element of the 2004 Jobs Creation Act led by U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell, now Senate Republican Leader, signed into law by President Bush. Kentuckians for Progress, the bipartisan effort behind Kentucky's historic vote in 2000 for annual sessions of the legislature, was chaired by Bob working with the Democratic House Speaker and the Republican Senate President along with corporate and civic leaders.
After finishing second of four in the 1995 Democratic primary election for governor of Kentucky, Bob was named Democratic Party Chair and CEO, nominated by Governor Paul Patton. During the mid-90s Bob worked as vice president of U.S. Corrections Corporation and as a senior fellow at the Council of State Governments in criminal justice.
President Clinton appointed Bob to the Coordinating Council on Juvenile Justice chaired by Attorney General Janet Reno and later by Attorney General John Ashcroft. Secretary of State Colin Powell named Bob to the Advisory Committee for Cultural Diplomacy.
Frequently Bob offers centrist political analysis for the media and has appeared on the CBS Nightly News. He is the author of Meet You in the Lobby, scheduled for publication in 2011, and regularly writes about lobbying. Bob has hosted the statewide cable TV public affairs program Capitol Insights featuring prominent state and national leaders. For 11 years on WVLK-AM radio, Bob has provided weekly context and perspective on issues.
Married 33 years, Bob and Laura Babbage live in Lexington. They are the parents of Robert, formerly of Bank of America/Merrill Lynch investment banking, New York, now a founding partner in Henley Asia, Singapore (Virginia, M.S. and Vassar, B.A.); Julie, an honors and deans list junior at Vanderbilt, currently intern to the U.S. Ambassador, London, England; and Brian, a Furman University first-year, varsity track and field. Bob and Laura hold graduate degrees from the Patterson School of Diplomacy, University of Kentucky, and Lexington Theological Seminary with bachelors from Eastern Kentucky University. Laura is a part-time chaplain at the U.K. Hospital and St. Joseph Hospital.
Additionally, Bob completed the Senior Executives Program at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. For “creative, legacy-making, extraordinary public service,” Bob was awarded an honorary degree, Doctor of Public Administration, by Campbellsville University. He was recently honored with Commerce Lexington’s first public advocacy award and then named to the Henry Clay Hall of Fame.