Supervisor James Gore
Campaign: James Gore, a former White House appointee who served as Assistant Chief of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), launched his first campaign for public office six months after returning to his native Sonoma County from Washington D.C.
Challenge: Gore, having never held elected office, was portrayed as inexperienced due to his non-existent political background and absence from Sonoma County for 18 years. He faced formidable challengers, including a popular 18-year Council Member/Mayor and a retired Mayor/Council Member, both of which were well-known in the community. In comparison, Gore’s name was virtually unknown at the start of his campaign, with 72 percent of voters stating they’d never heard of him. In just six months, his name recognition surged, with 83 percent of voters recognizing the candidate.
Strategy & Execution: Given his low name ID and long absence from the area, MPA knew they would have to run an aggressive, grassroots-oriented campaign that built on Gore’s strengths at the national level while proving his vision at the local level was paramount to those of his competitors. Through a robust ground campaign, coupled with MPA’s unparalleled direct mail, Gore secured a spot in the runoff just three months after 72 percent of voters indicated they’d never heard of him. Despite a half dozen hit pieces in the mail and tens of thousands of dollars in online and social media ads labeling him as a chemical lobbyist, wasteful government spender and carpetbagger, MPA kept the campaign on message and on the offensive, redoubling efforts to reach out to voters on the phones, on the streets and in the mail.
Outcome: James Gore was elected to the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors with 59 percent of the vote, a nearly 20 percent margin of victory over his rival.