Dover Group Blog

A Very Dover Holiday Recipe List
Written by Mark Nevins   
Friday, 13 December 2013 21:46

As temperatures drop and snow begins to fall, let The Dover Group warm you up with a delightful array of holiday treats and beverages.

You can browse the recipes below, or click on the one(s) that sound best and you'll go directly there.

Chris’s Candy Cane Martini
Mark’s Christ Eve Irish Coffee
Larry’s Beef Tenderloin Steaks with Port-Rosemary Sauce
Aaron’s Strawberry Pretzel Salad
Allison’s Hot Chocolate
Andy’s Holiday Homemade Gin
Felicia’s Cocoa Peppermint Cookies

Chris's Candy Cane Martini

1 1/4 ounces vanilla vodka
1 1/4 ounces white crème de cacao
3/4 ounce peppermint schnapps
Garnish: peppermint candy
Make the martini:
Combine vanilla vodka, white creme de cacao, and peppermint schnapps in an ice-filled cocktail shaker. Shake vigorously, and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with peppermint candy.

Mark’s Christmas Eve Irish Coffee

Growing up my family always hosted a Christmas Eve party.  In the beginning all the guests would drink beer and wine and would end up going home too tired to put together the bikes and train sets Santa brought for the children.  It was a real crisis, mostly for the childrens.  Then, one foggy Christmas Eve, our neighbor, Mr. Ribordy, brought Irish Whiskey to the party and my dad started making Irish Coffees.  Problem solved. Everyone was still sufficiently "Blitzened," but totally awake.  Bikes and trains were assembled, often incorrectly, but still assembled.

The Recipe:

1 jigger of Jameson

1 spoon of sugar

Pour strong coffee to just below the rim.

Gently spoon homemade whipped cream on top.  (Whipped cream must be homemade, not store bought.  Whipped cream in a can will not sit up on top of the coffee as required by Irish law.)

Drink. Repeat.

Larry’s Beef Tenderloin Steaks with Port-Rosemary Sauce


1 tablespoon butter
1/2 cup minced shallots (about 4 ounces)
1 cup dry red wine
3/4 cup ruby Port
1 cup canned beef broth
1 sprig fresh rosemary or 1/2 teaspoon dried


1 tablespoon olive oil
4 1-inch-thick beef tenderloin steaks (about 6 to 8 ounces each)
3 tablespoons chilled and unsalted butter
1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary or 1/4 teaspoon dried
For the sauce:
Melt butter in heavy large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add shallots and sauté until tender, about 3 minutes. Stir in wine and Port. Boil 5 minutes. Add broth and rosemary sprig and boil until liquid is reduced to 1/3 cup, about 12 minutes. Strain sauce and set aside. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)

For the steak:

Heat oil in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Season steaks with salt and pepper. Add steaks to skillet and cook to desired doneness, about 4 minutes per side for medium-rare. Transfer steaks to platter. Tent with foil to keep warm.

Add sauce to skillet and bring to boil, scraping up any browned bits. Remove from heat. Gradually add butter, whisking just until melted. Stir in chopped rosemary. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Spoon sauce over steaks and serve.

Aaron’s Strawberry Pretzel Salad

This sounds weird, but trust me, it’s great.

2 cups crushed pretzels
3/4 cups butter, melted
3 tbsp. white sugar
8 oz package of cream cheese, softened
1 cup white sugar
8 oz container of frozen whipped cream, thawed
2 (3 oz) packages of strawberry flavored Jell-O
2 cups boiling water
2 (10 oz) packages frozen strawberries
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).
Stir together crushed pretzels, melted butter and 3 tablespoons sugar; mix well and press mixture into the bottom of a 9x13 inch baking dish.
Bake 8 to 10 minutes, until set. Set aside to cool.

In a large mixing bowl cream together cream cheese and 1 cup sugar. Fold in whipped topping. Spread mixture onto cooled crust.

Dissolve gelatin in boiling water. Stir in still frozen strawberries and allow to set briefly. When the mixture is about the consistency of egg whites, pour and spread over cream cheese layer.

Refrigerate until set, then dig in!

Allison’s Hot Chocolate

Hands down the sweetest, creamiest, most delicious (and caloric) hot chocolate I’ve found. This recipe makes cocoa for two, but it’s easy to multiply for bigger groups.

2 cups milk (You could go with 1%, but that’s hardly festive. It tastes great with whole milk.)
3 1/2 ounces dark chocolate, in chunks or chips
1 cinnamon stick
2 teaspoons honey
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons dark rum (For the grown-ups)

Mix the milk, chocolate, cinnamon, honey, and sugar in a saucepan and heat gently until the chocolate is melted. Add the vanilla and whisk, then add rum to taste. Remove cinnamon stick and enjoy.

Andy’s Holiday Homemade Gin

Did you know that you can make your very own gin at home without a still (and without blowing up your house)?  This holiday gin recipe will be the talk of your holiday party.

What you’ll need:

1 1.75 liter bottle of vodka
1 big glass jar
Cheese Cloth
Brita Filter


The botanical list:
2 cups juniper berries
2 tbsp. coriander (crushed)
1 tsp. dried lemon peel (remove the pith!)
2 tsp. dried orange peel (remove the pith!)
2 whole cloves
1 cinnamon stick
1 cardamom pod (crushed)
1 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp. all spice
2 mint leaves
2 pieces of star anise
1 sprig rosemary
1 tsp lavender

Throw all your botanicals in your jar and pour in the vodka, seal it up, then give it a good shake. Shake the jar once a day for the next week.

After a week, pour the mixture into a separate container, through the cheesecloth to filter out as many large particles/berries/etc as possible.  Next, run your tasty concoction through your Brita filter at least once.

Then bottle it back up in your original vodka bottle or a separate container of your choosing and prepare to impress your friends! Be sure to use a high-quality tonic for mixing a great holiday G&T!

Felicia’s Cocoa Peppermint Cookies

For the cookies:
1 1/4 cups flour
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
scant 1/4 teaspoon pure peppermint extract
For the buttercream frosting:
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, very soft
2 cups powdered sugar
2 medium candy canes*
4 tablespoons half and half
pure peppermint extract, to taste

Make the cookies: Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt in a small bowl and set aside. In a medium bowl beat the butter and brown sugar together in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Add the egg and extracts and beat until smooth. Add flour mixture and stir with a wooden spoon until all the flour is incorporated. The dough will be quite stiff.

Wrap the dough in plastic and gently press it into a disk. Refrigerate for at least an hour or up to several days. If you are pressed for time (or are perhaps like me and can not wait) you should be able to get away with chilling the dough in the freezer for about 30 minutes.

When you are ready to bake the cookies, preheat the oven to 350 and line a baking sheet with parchment. On a lightly floured surface roll out the dough, dusting with more flour if needed, to about 1/4- to 1/8-inch thick. Use a fluted 1 1/2-inch cookie cutter to stamp out as many cookies as possible and reroll the scraps as necessary. Bake for 5 to 6 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely.

Make the frosting: In a large bowl beat together the softened butter with about 1 cup powdered sugar until the butter is mostly combined into the sugar and no large pieces remain. It will look crumbly but don’t fret. Set aside while you make the candy cane cream.

Use a rolling pin (or other heavy kitchen item) to finely crush the candy canes in a heavy-duty plastic bag. You should get about 1/4 cup of crushed candy and you want the pieces to be very small so they melt quickly and evenly. Combine the crushed candy cane and half and half in a small saucepan. Slowly heat the mixture over low heat  - whisking constantly – until all the candy cane bits have melted. Be careful not the let the mixture boil. The half and half should just be warm enough so that it melts the candy and when the they have melted completely, turn off the heat.

With the beaters running slowly pour the candy cane cream into the butter and powdered sugar mixture and whip until combined. Add the remaining cup of powdered sugar and beat for several minutes, scraping the bowl as needed, until the frosting is smooth and spreadable. Taste the frosting and add a few drops of peppermint extract if you feel it needs more mint zing!

Assemble the sandwich cookies: Transfer the frosting to a pastry bag fitted with wide tip and pipe a small amount of frosting on the bottom side of half of the cookies. Place the remaining cookies on top and gently squeeze each sandwich together to spread the filling to the edges.
Filled cookies can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for several days.

Come Together
Written by Aaron Hunter   
Thursday, 13 June 2013 17:16

By: Andy Shapero


If you’re having a hard time telling Facebook and Twitter apart these days, you’re not alone.

In their never-ending war for social media supremacy, the two companies are using a time-tested business strategy: integrating their opponent’s features into their own products.

The past two days we have seen Twitter and Facebook each introduce features that the other has offered for some time now.

On Wednesday, Facebook announced that users are now able to use hash tags (# symbol) to identify topics and points of conversation. Meanwhile, hashtags have been a defining feature on Twitter for years.   

Not to be outdone, Twitter took a page from Facebook and is now providing free analytics tools to all of its users.  Similar to Facebook Insights, Twitter analytics easily allows users to monitor their reach an engagement levels by monitoring the performance of their tweets.  

While the addition of these features are unlikely to tip the scale in favor of one of these social media platforms over the other, there is one clear winner: the users of each service.  


2013 Pollie Award Winners
Written by Aaron Hunter   
Monday, 08 April 2013 17:52

We're happy to announce that the Dover Group walked away with five AAPC "Pollie" awards in 2013! You can browse our award-winning work below. Click on the thumbnails to see full mail pieces and websites.

Mail for U.S. House Democrat - Tulsi Gabbard "Tulsi's Decision"

DecisionTulsi Gabbard was an active member of the Hawai’i National Guard with two tours of duty in the Middle East. We were confident that if we had the opportunity to tell Tulsi’s personal story, we could quickly close the polling gap.

One of the most interesting chapters in her background was her decision to give up her safe seat in the Hawai’i legislature to serve in the Hawai’i National Guard. She remembered watching troops fighting in the Middle East in 2003 on a TV from her office in the state capitol and felt compelled to be part of what she called “the defining event of my generation.”  She volunteered for the guard and, after training, specialized in medical logistics.

In July of 2004, many of the men and women with whom she had trained and served were set to deploy. Tulsi volunteered to be deployed and, in doing so, became the first elected official in Hawai’i to surrender an elected office to serve in a war zone.

We wanted voters to consider that, if she was willing to give up that much to fight for her country, she would fight just as hard for them in Congress.

Thanks to a combination of campaign paid media (including our direct mail), grassroots organizing, and third party support, Tulsi turned that 45-point deficit into a 21-point win on primary day - a stunning 66-point reversal. The mail that introduced Tulsi to primary voters in the 2nd District played a significant role in that turnaround.

Best Use of Negative/Contrast U.S. House Democrat - George Badey "Dark Alley"

Dark AlleyPennsylvania’s 7th Congressional District was, for the last several election cycles, a competitive district that was held by Democratic Congressman Joe Sestak. After redistricting, the district took on an odd “U” shape with some pieces connected to the whole by geographically narrow strips of land. The expectation was that the new lines made Meehan unbeatable.

However, our polling indicated that Meehan was vulnerable on some key issues, most notably a woman’s right to choose. With the electorate, especially moderate Republican women, growing increasingly frustrated with Republicans thanks to candidates like Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock as well as the GOP-led Congressional hearings on women’s reproductive rights and health care, there was a narrow window to put Meehan on the defensive and peel off enough Republican voters to steal a win.

To fit through that narrow window, we knew that we would have to first establish the credibility of our candidate, George Badey, on women’s issues.  Our program began with two positive pieces about his support for a woman’s right to choose.

The goal of this piece and all of our negative pieces was to educate and inform voters in the district about Meehan’s record. Our targets were primarily moderate Ds and Rs with a heavy focus on women.

In addition to educating voters, we also wanted to make sure we were striking at an emotional core. This piece in particular was designed to remind women what was truly at stake. Pat Meehan’s views meant a return to the days when women did not have the right to choose and back alley procedures were the only option.

Best Use of Early/Absentee Voting - Democrat - Cuyahoga County Democrats

Cuyahoga VBMOhio's ballot system allows voters to cast their votes early and absentee by mail. Cuyahoga County is a Democratic stronghold that President Obama had to dominate in order to win the state. In 2008, he earned 68.5 percent of the vote in Cuyahoga County and won it by a margin of nearly 250,000 votes, enough to secure victory by just over 200,000 votes in Ohio.

Understandably, the Cuyahoga County Democrats wanted to implement an aggressive early vote and absentee program in order to educate and inform voters about their opportunity to vote early and remind them to request ballots, fill them out, and send them back in.

However, this required getting people’s attention and educating them in a simple, easy to follow way. We used some traditional, non-political styles as inspiration for the piece, and we also used a color palette that provided a visual connection to the Obama campaign’s branding.

In the big picture, this mail piece was intended to help provide the Obama campaign and the entire Democratic ticket with the margin they needed to win. 

The early vote program helped increase overall turnout of registered voters in the county by ten percent over 2008. What’s more, Democrats significantly outperformed Republicans in early voting.

In nine Cleveland precincts Obama won unanimously.  He carried at least 75 percent of the vote in nearly half of the precincts countywide (489 of 1,063).

According to the Plain Dealer, “The unofficial tally shows that Obama won Cuyahoga County by 236,478 votes. In Ohio's other 87 counties combined, Romney won by 129,219 votes. In other words, without Cuyahoga County, Romney was the winner in Ohio.”

Website State/Statewide Democrat - Pennsylvania Treasurer Rob McCord

McCord Splash Page

Pennsylvania Treasurer Rob McCord started his career on Capitol Hill, but spent the majority of his time prior to running for treasurer in the private sector as an investor in startup companies, especially those in the technology sector. His non-political, business background was a key part of the campaign’s messaging in both 2008 and 2012.

With that in mind, from a design perspective, we wanted to present voters with a site that had a sleek, corporate sensibility that underscored McCord’s business background

The website broke down his accomplishments by category to match the campaign’s messaging: investment successes, improved efficiency, and security for seniors. Those were the issues on which McCord campaigned in 2008 and were the cornerstones of his accomplishments in office in his first term.

The site received 50,000 visitors in the months leading up to the election. The average visitor viewed three pages, proving that not only was the splash page effectively driving visitors to the content, but that they were also taking the time to interact with the site to learn more about McCord and his accomplishments.

In the end, McCord won reelection 52.5 to 44.

Website Local - Connect KC

Connect KC

When asking voters to support the development of a streetcar line, Kansas City chose to use a mail-in voting method prescribed by state statute for two separate elections: First to establish a Transit Development District (TDD), and second to fund the project.

The website was intended to serve two specific goals:

First, because the campaign was a unique one featuring two elections, the website was intended to provide simple, persuasive information about the project, its benefits, and its supporters. 

Second, the website was built to help us drive turnout by educating and informing voters about deadlines and election dates. The website was continually updated with information and the campaign created a countdown for the final 8 days before each election, complete with a graphic to explain how to get the ballot submitted by the deadline.

The website generated significantly more traffic than what we expected given the eligible voter pool. Through both of the ballot questions, the website generated 4,070 total page views and roughly 3,050 unique visitors despite only 2,600 voters being eligible to participate.

In the end, both campaigns were successful. The first vote passed with 69% of voters voting to create the TDD. The second vote resulted in a 64% win for our campaign. 

The Dover Group's Favorite Holiday Films
Written by Mark Nevins   
Wednesday, 19 December 2012 17:12

This Holiday Season, we're taking a break from our typical political posts to share with you some of our favorite holiday films. 

So take a few minutes to relive some of these Christmastime classics with the trailers below, then head to your neighborhood video store (ok, who are we kidding, Netflix or iTunes) to enjoy them in full with your family and friends over the Holidays.

We hope you have a great holiday season and the new year brings you all kind of successes.  We look forward to catching up soon!

The Dover Group

Scrooged - Mark

Love Actually - Larry

Christmas Vacation - Chris

 White Christmas - Allison

Elf - Aaron

Bad Santa - Andy

Home Alone - Felicia

Bring Back adultBasic for Pennsylvania's Working Poor
Written by Aaron Hunter   
Tuesday, 06 September 2011 20:51

Dover clients William Caroselli and David Senoff wrote an important op-ed piece in yesterday's Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that is worth sharing.

The piece "highlights the need to bring back adultBasic for Pennsylvania's hard-working families and individuals. On a day when we honor the contributions of working men and women, it only seems right to remind Governor Corbett and the state legislature that adultBasic can provide affordable insurance to Pennsylvania's working poor at NO taxpayer cost. It's time to bring it back."

Please take a moment and give it a read.

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Praise for The Dover Group

"Bringing in the Dover Group was one of the smartest things we did. Their focus on strategic planning, disciplined messaging, and online coalition building made a significant impact. The result: we increased early childhood education funding by $17 million and built a grassroots network of more than 25,000 people. We couldn't have done it without their help."

Jennifer Crow
Former Executive Director
Kansas Coalition for School Readiness