Todd Kaminsky for State Senate

Project Details

March 16, 2017
Todd Kaminsky
Advertising, Campaign Management

Project Description


Republican Senate Leader Dean Skelos held this seat on Long Island for over 30 years. When Skelos was indicted on federal corruption charges, Democrats had an opportunity – and a problem: flipping a conservative Senate seat in a highly unpredictable Special Election. And it meant that Parkside would have to smartly capitalize on a unique opportunity to win in this reliably Republican district.

The Candidates:
Democrat Todd Kaminsky:  Kaminsky was a freshman Assemblyman and a former federal prosecutor. He had a good resume for the job, but Kaminsky was still a Democratic candidate running for a traditionally Republican seat.
Republican Chris McGrath: McGrath was a personal injury attorney with a low public profile. McGrath’s anonymity meant that tying him to Skelos’ corruption scandal wouldn’t be easy.
The Playbook:

To win this tough race, we knew that we’d have to accomplish two messaging successes at once:  McGrath would have to be disqualified and tied to corruption – despite being an unknown quantity AND Voters would have to trust Kaminsky on pocketbook issues, something they had never done with a Democrat.

Parkside forged a three-pronged, interconnected strategy for success:

1.) Tying McGrath to Skelos
From McGrath’s unwillingness to condemn Skelos to his ties to the Nassau Republican Party to even his physical resemblance to the disgraced leader, Parkside used provocative and creative mail and television to link the men in voters’ minds.

2.) Presenting Kaminsky as a reformer – focusing on middle class issues
Kaminsky’s background as a prosecutor was a perfect foil for McGrath, and our mail made sure voters knew he was committed to stopping corruption. But Parkside’s research also showed that voters remained focused on their bottom lines – and while reform made a fitting narrative, taxes and schools needed to Kaminsky’s top concerns.

3.) Different voters, different messages
Campaigns aren’t just about what you say, but who you say it to. Middle class African American and Hispanic communities, and more conservative Jewish populations, were all critical to Kaminsky’s winning coalition.

Parkside layered targeted mail with messages geared to these constituencies over the broader communication program.

The Result:

Kaminsky’s unprecedented victory was a huge win for Democrats in New York.

And when it came time for him to run for re-election just six months later, Parkside was there to communicate with voters. Our mail reminded voters why they sent him to the State Senate in the first place – and why McGrath was still the wrong candidate for the district.

Having laid the groundwork in the Special Election, Parkside led Kaminsky to a larger victory in November. By taking the right message to the right voters, Parkside won two big victories for Democrats in a strong Republican seat.

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