Dan Sullivan was right on the issues. His record of fighting for new Alaskan energy production and against domestic violence, coupled with his commitment to defend Alaskans against high taxes, wasteful spending and federal overreach, resonated strongly with an electorate that was frustrated with the failures of the Obama Administration and Mark Begich’s willingness to act as a rubber stamp for the President’s agenda.
FP1’s team developed a memorable advertising campaign, which effectively told Dan Sullivan’s story and positioned him as a strong, optimistic leader with deep roots in Alaska. Sullivan’s record as Alaska’s Attorney General, DNR commissioner, and policy views were a cornerstone of our messaging progression because we ultimately knew his record of getting results for Alaskans and his views on key issues would directly refute the false, negative charges from Begich and national Democrats. And, in a break from traditional political advertising, we used a series of highly emotional and compelling testimonials to add a personal touch to our ads in telling Dan’s story.
Our first strategic priority was to respond strongly to the attacks that Dan Sullivan was not an Alaskan. Begich and his allies attacks falsely claimed that not being a native Alaskan meant Sullivan did not understand or share the same priorities of Alaskans. Our polling showed that this line of attack on Sullivan’s residency had real potency with voters. The truth was Sullivan’s experience, values, record, plans and policies were far more in line with what Alaskans were looking for in their Senator than what Mark Begich offered. Our job was to make that case in the most credible, emotional, and memorable way so we could overcome the millions of dollars in false charges.
To educate voters about why Sullivan had left his home in Alaska from 2001 to 2009, our advertising campaign focused heavily on Dan’s service to our country in the U.S. Marine Corps and in the White House and State Department after 9/11. In one of the campaign’s most powerful advertisements, we featured the testimonial of Wayne Woods, a father who had lost his son in Iraq. Mr. Woods’ ad stressed the importance of military service and expressed that Dan Sullivan shared the same values of his son and that he was the right man to represent Alaska during this critical time in our nation’s history. The ad garnered significant media attention and ultimately went on to earn a Reed Award for Best TV Spot of the cycle by Campaigns & Elections Magazine.