In a tough four-way primary campaign, our client Ed Narain overcame a 20+ point deficit and won a 7-point victory over a candidate endorsed by a former Governor and a half-dozen Democratic legislative incumbents.
While the state Democratic establishment was lined up against Narain, we knew that his deep community ties would overcome the facade of support created by his opponent.
For almost twenty years, Ed Narain had been living and working in Florida’s 61st House District – an urban, poor, and predominantly minority inner-city district in Tampa. During that time, Ed had helped create jobs, mentored young people, and volunteered in the community. Our direct mail campaign focused on Narain’s work in the community, his personal biography as the son of immigrant parents, and his accomplishments as a successful businessman working for a major telecom company.
While the field was crowded, one Democratic opponent in particular loomed large. A newcomer to the community with an Ivy League pedigree and a list of statewide Democrats backing him, Sean Shaw simply couldn’t match Ed’s community credentials. While the inevitable “Democrat in Name Only” charges flew against Ed, we stayed focused on Narain’s story and connection to the community. Allied groups pummeled Shaw as a carpetbagger with questionable candidate motives. But the coup de gråce was the almost uniform endorsement of every local Democratic official for Ed.
Those local, community leaders, along with the public and visible endorsement of dozens of families, friends, colleagues, and activists demonstrated Narain’s connection to the district. As a linchpin of Narain’s campaign, these endorsements overcame Shaw’s support by Republican-turned-Democrat and former Florida Governor Charlie Crist, as well as a half-dozen regional Democratic legislators.
This marks yet another come-from-behind primary victory for our clients and serves as an instructive reminder to other candidates running for office: Don’t try to be something you’re not. You can be new to a community and still win. But you can’t be fake and win. Eventually, it catches up with you.