California politics has always been in Jarhett Blonien’s DNA. The CEO of J. Blonien grew up in Sacramento with two parents who worked in the public sector. His father, Rodney Blonien, served under two California governors and often brought Jarhett to work and fundraising events, engendering his love for public service at an early age.
Like his father, Jarhett chose to pursue his political career as a lawyer. He believed that if he wanted to be involved in drafting or defeating laws, he should have a solid understanding of the law itself. In 2006 he earned his bachelor’s degree in political science from Santa Clara University. During that time he interned in the office of Assembly Speaker Herb Wesson and spent a year abroad at the University of Canterbury. Three years later Jarhett earned his law degree from Santa Clara University School of Law, following in his father’s footsteps.
Jarhett’s plan had always been to join Blonien and Associates, the lobbying firm that his father started in 1987; however, graduating from law school during a recession didn’t allow that door to open right away. Instead, he found a position with the California Department of Justice, first as a graduate legal assistant, then as a deputy attorney general. Jarhett spent nearly two years representing the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation in both state and federal courts. It was there that he realized the importance of understanding how regulatory agencies work, and that litigation and the regulatory process are viable tools in helping clients achieve their goals without having to involve the Legislature.
Unfortunately, Jarhett’s father passed away suddenly in March of 2012. Rodney Blonien had spent decades building Blonien & Associates as one of the foremost experts in California’s horse racing and card room industries. As his passing left a void in representation for these interests, it was then that Jarhett decided to take over as CEO and, a few years later, Blonien & Associates became J. Blonien.
Then there was COVID-19. It’s no surprise that stay-at-home orders and safety and health restrictions changed the landscape for lobbyists in Sacramento. Jarhett worked diligently to keep his client’s businesses open, both by helping them find ways to operate outdoors, as well as by seeking financial relief for fees and taxes.
In an interesting twist, while Jarhett was fighting to keep doors open for his clients, another door opened for him. Jarhett’s office shares space with SacTown Talks, a popular podcast about California’s political culture. When the pandemic made it challenging for the show to continue, Jarhett offered to jump in as a host. He also hired Duran Kinst Strategies to bolster the growth of the show and ensure that its audience continues to get the information it needs.
“We often forget that politicians are people that have interests and concerns outside of what we see in the news,” Jarhett said. “SacTown Talks is a great way to personally get to know the players in town and take an in-depth look at the policy issues they’re working on.”
Want to find out more about the work Jarhett does for his clients? Connect with him at jblonien.com.
If you haven’t already subscribed to the SacTown Talks podcast, you should check it out at sactowntalks.com.