Vertically integrated policy, political and public AFFAIRS solutions


It’s a mouthful. We know.

But those six syllables best explain who we are and what we do.

The best companies, campaigns, causes, and candidates have one thing in common: differentiators that generate distinct market advantages over their competition.

Our biggest differentiator is our expertise. Some people understand policymaking and legislative strategy. Others know politics and advocacy campaigns. Few master both. We excel in the space where politics and policy meet. 

We separate our clients from the pack by helping them understand and navigate the relationship between policy and politics. By creating differentiators in both arenas – be it an original message, a better government affairs structure, a unique policy solution, an outside-the-box political strategy, insightful research or a winning ad - we help you stand out and succeed. 

Most importantly, we do it while adhering to three core values: work hard, work smart, and work with integrity.



Jim Blaine


Jim Blaine served as North Carolina Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger’s first Chief of Staff, from 2011 to 2018.  Prior to joining Senator Berger’s legislative staff, Blaine was the director of the Republican State Senate Caucus political organization, where he led the historic 2010 campaign effort that put Republicans in control of the North Carolina Senate for the first time in 140 years.

Much of Blaine’s training for legislative and political work came through his first job out of college: teaching middle school students with behavioral and emotional disabilities.

After six years, Blaine left the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a diploma in hand and an agreement – which the University rescinded in 2018 when he was appointed to the UNC Board of Visitors – that he not return.

Today, Blaine lives in Raleigh with his wife and four daughters.

Differentiators: Legislative and policy consulting. Creative messaging. Political strategy.


Ray Martin


Ray Martin is a newspaper reporter turned communications adviser turned political operative.

Martin got his first writing gig at 16, covering high school sports for his hometown newspaper. In college, he wrote full time for the statewide newspaper of record and managed a team of opinion columnists for student media on Oklahoma’s campus. The News & Observer brought him to Raleigh in 2009, and he covered local government until Phil Berger hired him to be the State Senate’s press secretary. Martin managed the Senate Caucus political operation from 2012 to 2018, going undefeated in target races in three of the four election cycles.

Martin lives in North Raleigh with his wife, Rachel and their two kids.

Differentiators: Strategic communication. Project and campaign management. New media.


Zach Almond

Differentiators Local

Zach Almond runs “Differentiators Local”, a new partnership exclusively for down-ballot races below the legislative level. Almond has worked in local politics since he was 14. He built an innovative voter contact program that helped over two dozen candidates in North and South Carolina win in 2020. In addition to his success in local campaigns, Zach has been a campaign manager for Congressman Dan Bishop, chairman of the North Carolina College Republicans, and at age 23 was elected to the Stanly County Commission. Zach lives in Albemarle, North Carolina with his wife, Katlyn.


  • A conversation about the top political minds in North Carolina right now probably has to include Jim Blaine...

    Jeff Tiberii, WUNC Capitol Bureau Chief


  • He is able to not only come up with the issues that the party can get behind. He knows how to get them passed. He knows how to get stuff to become law probably better than anybody else.

    Loretta Boniti, Spectrum News Senior Political Reporter

  • To the extent that anything good has been done out of this chamber in the last 8 years, Jim Blaine has been a big part of that. He has been largely responsible for helping pull that together. He understands politics better than anybody I’ve ever met or anybody I expect to meet. I also know that he is one of the best people you will ever meet as well. I can tell you that for me personally… to the extent that anyone feels I have had any achievements in politics, I don’t think any of that is attributable necessarily to me. Jim has been a big part.

    NC Senate Leader Phil Berger


  • Ray worked for me as a young reporter. He showed grit, determination, innate smarts and an unfailing civility, even when his reporting was making his subjects uncomfortable or embarrassed… I was utterly unsurprised by his rapid rise through the ranks to become a trusted adviser to top-ranked public officials. He's tough, smart and willing to tell his clients inconvenient truths they need to hear. If Ray's on your team and you follow his advice, you'll win.

    Jim Nesbitt, former Wake County editor, The News & Observer

  • I’d be remiss if I didn’t recognize our 51st Senator, Jim Blaine. Somebody who has been a masterful architect, a person of great integrity, somebody who we might not have agreed with on all things but normally when we worked together – probably 50% or two thirds of the time we could work things out. Someone who has sacrificed so much of his life being away from his family to be here on the floor of the Senate day and night, 24/7. While we may not always agree, I have to respect the masterful job which he has done on behalf of Senator Berger.

    Democratic State Sen. Floyd McKissick,
    past Chair of the NC Legislative Black Caucus

  • One of the most powerful people that no one's ever heard of

    The News & Observer



The ways we help you stand out:

  • Martin & Blaine Consulting

    With over two decades of state policymaking and communications experience, we help businesses and professional associations think outside the box and craft creative legislative strategies.

    • Policy analysis
    • Political intelligence
    • Messaging and positioning

  • Differentiators Direct Mail

    Our award-winning political and public affairs mail is crafted in-house, custom for every client.

    • Message formation and copywriting
    • Custom design
    • Production and shipping

  • Differentiators Data

    Polling. Modeling. Mapping. Our unique, comprehensive approach to research helps clients message with precision and creates a roadmap for reaching their policy and political goals.

    • Live caller, IVR and web-based polling
    • Analytics, modeling and mapping
    • Extensive NC political and demographic database

  • Differentiators Local

    Full-service campaigns designed specifically for municipal, county, judicial and other down-ballot races.

    • Live phone calls and grassroots activation
    • Direct mail and targeted digital
    • Management and analysis

Let us