Where The Votes Are: Beating the Newtown Machine

Todays News

Campaign manager Ed James III said of all the campaigns he’s been involved in, the recent District 1 Sarasota City Commission race was among the nastiest. He managed Commissioner Kyle Scott Battie’s successful campaign to defeat incumbent Willie Shaw. “This is the first time ever I would see Willie Shaw and Kyle Battie signs in front of the same house,” James said.

A precinct-level analysis shows the path for victory in the district came by Battie winning all precincts south of Newtown, where from every City Commissioner since districts were put in place has ever haled, while also competing posting a decent showing in the looming District 115, where Shaw has long served as a community leader.

James, whose father served as a civil rights leader in the community for years before his 2018 death, said he faced strong criticism from many leaders for working with a challenger candidate, That showed the campaign they had to find a way to work around the Newtown machine. He said they found in areas like Jordan’s Crossing, many residents had never heard of Shaw, a nine-year incumbent.

“Sarasota is such a fractured city, and there is such a disconnect between Newtown and rest of Sarasota,” James said. “That’s why it was so powerful Kyle ran and won. He can be that connector.”

The race was among several major contests settled on Nov. 3. The results will be discussed as SRQ’s Where The Votes Are virtual workshop on Zoom. The event begins at 8:30 a.m. today. Click here to register.

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