Campaign Managers Dish the Dirt on Gubernatorial Campaign

Nov 14, 2017

George Mason University professor Mark Rozell, left, moderates a panel in Arlington featuring Gillespie campaign manager Chris Leavitt, center, and Northam campaign manager Brad Komar.
Credit Michael Pope

So what was it really like behind the scenes of a campaign for governor? Michael Pope has this look inside the two major party campaigns.

Brad Komar was campaign manager for Democrat Ralph Northam’s campaign for governor, which swamped Republican Ed Gillespie with a nine point victory last week. During a panel discussion in Arlington this week, he detailed how high tech data crunching helped the campaign win. But he said ultimately the victory was a measure of old fashioned shoe leather. The Democratic coordinated campaign knocked on 3.9 million doors this year.

“That is a Herculean effort, 3.9 million doors. That is twice as many as Hillary knocked on last year in Virginia and that’s a presidential and four times as many as Terry McAuliffe knocked on four years ago.”

Chris Leavitt was Gillespie’s campaign manager. He said one thing that harmed his campaign was a reluctance among Republicans to vote early so the campaign has a better idea of where it stands.

“The challenge for us is that Republicans like to vote on Election Day. They love it. They love showing up, and they love getting their sticker. We’ve got a lot of work to do to try to convince our folks to come out on a Saturday and vote.”

Both campaign managers said they didn’t really see the wave coming until the results starting rolling in on election night.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.