CASE STUDY: Rick Kriseman


The Challenge:

  • Rick Kriseman trailed by as much as 15 points.
  • Florida Politics declared “The St. Petersburg mayor’s race is over” “finis. Kapot.” “…Unless  struck by lightning … Baker (our opponent) will be sworn-in for a third term as St. Petersburg mayor.”
  • Kriseman was outspent by nearly $500,000.

The Campaign:

There were many ingredients to “The Great Comeback in St. Pete.”   A few key components:

  • A CLIMATE CHANGE MESSAGE THAT WORKS: Our framework of Forward vs. Backwards still worked but he dramatically retooled our proof points and made the race a referendum on climate change. The Tampa Bay Times said “Kriseman’s focus on the issue worked. Plenty of other candidates across the country, including 2014 gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist, have tried to do the same with little payoff.” “Kriseman's success could be a model for progressives and Democrats going into next year's elections,” Progress Florida Executive Director Mark Ferullo said.  (LINK: All Ads)
  • TRUMP & REPUBLICANS … LINK THEM & SINK THEM: Linking Baker to Trump’s positions on climate change denial, police brutality promotion and cluelessness on Charlottesville were keys to the comeback.  Sunshine State News said, “Trump Albatross in St. Pete? … it should be a warning sign… It should cause Republicans to ask themselves, how could a guy who was so beloved in this community (Baker) not be able to turn that on again.”   WFLA-TV Political analyst Barry Edwards said Kriseman ultimately had the better strategy, tying Baker to Trump.” (Link: ALL ADS)
  • EPIC FIELD:  A fully integrated campaign across all mediums with persuasion and GOTV. (link (Backwards Baker.  Campaign Manager Jacob Smith and Field Director Adriene Bogan oversaw a volunteer driven field program that identified over 10,000 supporters and knocked on over 20,000 doors in the final 4 days alone, a nearly 1-1 ratio of door knocks to Election Day voters.
  • MEDIA & DIGITAL’S ROLE IN GOTV, FIELD AND PERSUASION:  We had tracks of creative and paid messaging on social media, digital, radio and TV with an eye toward persuasion (increased numbers with independents), GOTV (white Democrats) and African-Americans.
  • HUGE IMPROVEMENT: Improved our standing 20-25 pts from initial polls (persuasion and GOTV).

The Result:

Data guru MCI Maps' post-election report called it “…one of the biggest Dem shockers in recent Florida history.” – MCI Maps, 10 November 2017,

Tampa Bay Times called Kriseman “the comeback kid” in their Winners/Losers of the Week section.

In the primary it was one of the biggest comebacks and the closest race we’ve in which we've ever been a part.

52-48 win (after trailing by 15; six polls showed the race a 1-2 pt race before our win.

From a 70 vote win (48-48) in the primary to the general, Kriseman's performance was better with all persuasion and GOTV targets:  white Democrats, African Americans and Independent (NPA) voters.

The creative work:

Digital, TV and Radio spots: Click here

The Team:

Rick Kriseman, A candidate who is the right leader at the right time

Kerry Kriseman, a volunteer phone banking warrior

Jacob Smith, campaign manager and communications director

Adrienne Bogen, field director who led a 20,000 door knock, 20,000 phone call effort the last weekend

Omar Kahan, General & Strategic Consultant

Impact Campaigns/Travis Peterson, direct mail

Tom Eldon, pollster

CounterPoint Messaging, TV, radio, digital 

Hulsen Media Services, media buying

Michael Worley, social media and digital

Hundreds of volunteers, the LGBTQ community, the Florida Education Association and the Florida Democratic Party all made a difference as well.