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TribBlog: Kelly Fero Dies

Democratic political consultant Kelly Fero died this afternoon at his home in Austin.

Democratic political consultant Kelly Fero died this afternoon at his home in Austin. He was 57.

Fero was best known as an Austin-based consultant to John Sharp, Tony Sanchez, the late Jim Mattox and many, many others. He was a talented writer, a top-notch researcher, and had a reputation for smashmouth quotes and sharp elbows that earned him strong friends and strong enemies.

He preceded that political business with a career as a writer, working at the now-defunct Third Coast magazine in Austin and even authoring a nonfiction book on a notorious string of killings, called The Zani Murders. And he was a drummer in a rock band that never quite made the big time (though it did make it to YouTube).

Fero was born in Detroit, reared in Argentina and Mexico before settling in Austin. He left journalism to write for and strategize with then-Attorney General Mattox, and later joined then-Comptroller Sharp, working in his state office for years and playing a central role in Sharp's unsuccessful campaigns for lieutenant governor. He consulted with Sanchez — the head of a Democratic "dream team" he and Sharp and others put together in 2002 — while also working on Sharp's campaign that year. In between, before and since, he consulted Democrats on the local and state levels in Texas and other states, becoming one of the best-known Democratic strategists in Texas.

The Austin American-Statesman profiled him in 2008. And blogger and fellow consultant Nate Wilcox did a long interview with Fero later that same year.

He leaves a wife, Mary, two daughters, and three grandchildren.

UPDATE: A memorial service will be held at the Unitarian Universalist Church at 4700 Grover in Austin on Saturday, January 9, at 11am.

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From John Sharp:

"This guy had two attributes that I thought were over the top outstanding. One of them was loyalty... The other, he was just a brilliant strategist. I'm really gonna miss him."

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From Boyd Richie, chairman, Texas Democratic Party:

“We are saddened by the passing of Kelly Fero.  A Texan who worked hard to elect many Democrats, our thoughts and prayers are with Kelly’s family at this difficult time.”

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