Sometimes a race happens, and you see the effects for years to come. That seems to be the case in Florida. Two years ago, Blue America endorsed Adam Christensen in North Central Florida: a young progressive candidate with a message very similar to what Lucas Kunce (MO) and John Fetterman (PA) are talking about today. Now it appears we have a similar candidate running statewide in Florida. Meet JR Gaillot, a longtime political operative who is running for Florida Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Affairs. Born in New York, he speaks 5 languages, wrote one of the original drafts to the postal reform bill that just passed Congress and was a former advisory board member of Unite Blue (before the Dem Party bought and destroyed it). He is a Black Haitian man that lives in one of the reddest counties in Florida (Clay) and has a unique perspective about how Democrats can win in purple states. Please read his guest post and consider contributing to his campaign here.
Making Inroads In Florida
-by JR Gaillot
Winning in Florida in a statewide race is nearly impossible for a Democrat. You have to have the perfect environment, the right message, and a strategy different from the establishment’s losing formula. It happened 4 years ago when Nikki Fried won this race and we’ve got the right conditions for it to happen again. The good news is that we’ve been preparing for this for two years. In the last cycle I helped a campaign in North Central Florida with a young progressive candidate (Adam Christensen). We tested out a theory that had profound effects. We talked to Republicans about the things that matter to everyone including them. It allowed us to win more votes than any Democrat in the last 10 years— Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. Here’s how we did it.
We didn’t use the Democrats' data. We found our own.
The data we use is better quality data and that data enables us to reach the voters that matter
In Rural areas 60% of the Democratic data is unusable. When we were using Democratic data we were getting Republicans, independents, and non-Democratic voters. When we got our own data, we were actually able to talk to the right person. The right numbers were matched to the right names. When we call a number asking for Fred we actually got Fred, not Sarah.
The data was the key, once we figured out we can reach the right person it became easier to communicate with them about what mattered the most to them. What mattered to them most and what we found was that the hot-button issues that the general public and the media were talking about didn’t matter. They cared more about things that effect their daily lives and their livelihood. Most people we talked to worried more about their air conditioning going out and how they would be able to afford to repair it. How can they put food on the table pay their rent, mortgages, and electric bill is what is foremost in voters’ minds.
One of the most popular topics was daycare affordability and school lunches. People needed help and they wanted to know how their representative was going to help them. We listen to that message, we listen to their demands, and we focused on those things. That’s how we were able to get more votes than any other Democrat in the history of that district.
The Democratic Party’s entire strategy is to only turn out more Democratic voters. But you’ve got to give people a reason to come out and vote for you. You can't just say, “let's turn them out” and not deliver on things. So now the strategy that we have is to tell them exactly what we're going to do that is different from what they’ve seen in the past. We have to elect better Democrats. We have to elect Democrats who are willing to fight. We have to elect Democrats who are not afraid to go toe-to-toe with these Republicans and challenge them openly.
That's what needs to happen and this is how we’re going to get this message across– because every time we get into a room with Republicans, we have the disadvantage of just having the D by our name. But when you talk to them about things that matter, they are going to listen because it no longer becomes a partisan issue like those hot button topics of today. Everyone wants to talk about inflation, which is a serious matter and is mostly just the effects of corporate price gouging.
We have these companies that are taking advantage of everyday people and we need to hold these companies accountable for things like rent rules that are not sustainable. We need to hold companies accountable and put a stop to it. Companies like Pepsi, Nestle, and Tyson, which have doubled or tripled their prices, have been reducing the size of the chip bags or the chicken that you buy. We need to hold accountable these companies that only care about their shareholders, and when we talk to Republicans about these issues, they are paying attention. They perk up and they are listening and they are in favor of us going after these companies. We go after companies receiving money
No more empty promises. I’m essentially offering a contract to the people of Florida, stating “Hey, if you elect me, this is what I can and will do for you.” Please take a look at my website to see the issues this campaign is focused on: getting control of inflation, lowering rents, fighting fraud by ending predatory practices and protecting the vulnerable. Floridians are going to see what a Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Commissioner can do in this state.