Andrew Gounardes

State Senate

Project Description

In 2020, the Democratic State Senate was running for re-election for the first time in his conservative Southern Brooklyn district. It was a challenging endeavor due to five key elements

  1. Trump was expected to win the district easily, as he had four years earlier
  2. The Democratic congressman, whose district overlapped with the senate district, was expected to lose his seat
  3. Gounardes’ opponent was a local celebrity – a successful businessman named Vito Bruno who had previously run borough-wide
  4. Gounardes had voted for a progressive (but controversial) bail reform law that was locally unpopular – the Senate District, in addition to being conservative, is also home to many members of law enforcement
  5. An independent expenditure, financed by people opposed to the bail law, was poised to spend big to defeat Gounardes


Our Approach
Being outspent by an independent expenditure that was viciously attacking Gounardes for being soft on crime, we knew we had to fire back. Our research showed that talking about social issues or police reform was not the way to score points – but there was a path.

Our opponent had spent his career owning and managing music venues and dance clubs that were magnets for drugs and violence. We painted the Republican as someone who was complicit in the crimes happening at his clubs. We made the case through police reports and testimonials.

In contrast, we did multiple pieces of mail highlighting the important work Gounardes had done to improve the health coverage for emergency first responders and those who had worked at Ground Zero. The contrast could not have been clearer.

Our Result
In the end, we won 52-48%, despite Trump winning the district, the Democratic congressman losing his seat, and being outspent nearly 2-1.

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October 19, 2021

Paul Thomas, Partner at The Parkside Group, Featured by City & State in their “Power of Diversity: Black 100 2021″ List