for Florida House
Taking down the Republican Majority Leader in a Republican District
The cards were stacked against Mike Clelland when he announced his campaign against Florida Speaker-designate and incoming Majority Leader Chris Dorworth in late 2011. Dorworth had a massive $500,000 war chest and was defending solidly-Republican turf – the district went 52%-47% for Senator McCain over President Obama in 2008 and 53%-45% in favor of Governor Scott over Democratic nominee Alex Sink in 2010. On top of that, no Florida Speaker-designate had lost re-election since 1988.
Despite all the challenges, Mike Clelland saw an opportunity. Dorworth had run into ethical and financial problems over the course of his career. Clelland, who rose to the rank of battalion chief after 26 years as a firefighter before opening up a law practice, had a perfect resume to draw strong contrasts with the incumbent.
Mack-Sumner’s team designed a tightly-targeted, efficient mail program that made the most of scarce resources by going after select independents and persuadable Republicans – two groups Clelland needed to win. All communications drew tough contrasts with Dorworth, many times drawing on a wealth of negative press that Dorworth had earned over recent years.