The Shuster campaign presented Red Maverick with one of its most unique challenges. After narrowly winning the GOP primary, Congressman Shuster was forced into a rematch against his primary opponent in the general election when Art Halvorson elected to accept the Democratic nomination to run with Hillary Clinton. Early polling indicated that Congressman Shuster's conservative record and early endorsement of Donald Trump was a difficult hurdle to overcome with Democrats and Independents, and Halvorson maintained most of the primary voters he garnered in April.
This was an unprecedented situation to be in and Congressman Shuster was battling incumbency and a witch hunt by some in the media with reports on his personal life. Our challenges were many - we needed to identify Congressman Shuster as exactly who he is - a conservative who was able to reach across the aisle and as a family man who puts the district first. At the same time, we had to label Halvorson a political opportunist, willing to use Republicans and Democrats to try and gain power and win an election.
Red Maverick Media served as the general consultant and media vendor for the Congressman's effort. We immediately created different buckets of voters and went about targeting mail and digital ads to each, talking about Congressman Shuster's accomplishments as well as define Halvorson to different segments of the electorate. During the general election we created nearly 80 different direct mail pieces and digital sets to communicate with voters about specific issues they cared about.
At the same time, we knew we needed to tell Bill's story on the air in a way that both humanized the Congressman and brought him back to his roots. We debuted ads from his daughter Ali and son Garret and then used a testimonial spot from people throughout the district talking about the work Bill had done to help the area. When Halvorson debuted a negative attack ad that attacked Bill Shuster in personal terms, we created an ad from his ex-wife and supporter Becky. The ad created extensive buzz both online and in the district, and cratered Halvorson's negative attacks. Meanwhile, we made a significant investment in direct mail and an online ad highlighting the endorsement Bill received from Donald Trump.
Despite an unprecedented situation and relentless negative attacks from his opponent, Congressman Shuster was reelected overwhelmingly by the voters of the 9th District. Bill won his 8th full term despite the opposition from a conservative Republican who vowed to defeat him for reelection and started in the strongest position of any Shuster challenger since he was first elected. Bill won across almost every demographic and worked with the Trump campaign to help carry the district for both campaigns.
“I’m stunned by it. It’s just stunning to me...”
“I can’t explain it.”
- Art Halvorson on his loss to Bill Shuster
(Altoona Mirror, Nov 9 2016)
Early polling indicated that Congressman Shuster's conservative record and early endorsement of Donald Trump was a difficult hurdle
to overcome with Democrats and Independents
Red Maverick Media