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JD_STUTZMAN_01.JPGPolitical consultants around the country should find inspiration from Sacramento's saga to keep the Kings and look for opportunities to get involved in sports developments in their own communities.

That was the message a panel of political professionals told an audience of their peers at today's conference of the American Association of Political Consultants in Sacramento.

"When you're building arenas and stadiums, you really do need folks who have a very high political IQ," said Chris Lehane, a Democratic political strategist who is an adviser to Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson.

"This really is very similar to a political campaign and there is a huge role for a political consultant to play."

Rob Stutzman, a Republican political consultant who was involved in efforts two years ago to thwart the Kings move to Anaheim, said Sacramento was well armed to fight for its basketball team because it's home to so many people who make a living in politics.

"You're kind of mucking with a political town, so we know how to muck with you," Stutzman said.

"People in this town just scrambled politically because the advantage we had over anyone in Anaheim or Seattle... is that we really know how to fight... and on an issue like this, fight in a very bipartisan manner."

PHOTO: Political consultant Rob Stutzman, in 2003. The Sacramento Bee/John Decker



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