Duggan for Detroit

A Write-In Campaign Victory

The Problem

Former Wayne County Prosecutor and former CEO of the Detroit Medical Center, Mike Duggan was elected as the Mayor of Detroit in 2013. It almost didn’t happen.

In June 2013, a Wayne County judge ruled Mike Duggan’s name could not appear on the official primary ballot due to a filing technicality. Recognizing that a write-in campaign would be an uphill battle, Mike Duggan sought Dandelion’s help. By adding critical capacity to his campaign team, Dandelion implemented a proactive communications strategy, allowing Duggan to spend his time in the most effective way: meeting and talking with residents about his platform– not wasting valuable time trying to explain how to spell his name and how to fill in the circle.

Ballots don’t come with instructions for nominating a write-in candidate; with only five weeks to go before the election, Dandelion was charged with educating the entire city on the write-in process, and how to spell Mike Duggan’s name correctly.

The Solution

Dandelion served multiple functions, expanding the capacity of each team under the campaign. We conceptualized, designed and implemented all of the digital media and printed materials including the sandwich boards worn by poll workers on primary day, which was credited as a critical factor contributing to Mike’s landslide victory in the primary.

After a tumultuous primary election season, Mike Duggan earned more than 44,000 write-in votes, beating 11 other candidates by nearly 20 points. With Mike’s name secured on the official general election ballot, our focus shifted to communicating Mike’s Neighborhood Plan, the heart of his campaign platform, to voters at scale.

During the general election, Dandelion’s role was expanded to give capacity and assistance to all departments within the campaign including the Advance team, Data, and Community Relations. One example that proved extremely valuable was our ability to analyze and interpret critical raw data for the campaign, allowing for better and more informed decisions to be made more quickly.

Dandelion became an integral part of the campaign’s team, providing critical support for strategy, messaging and implementation. Balancing tight turnaround deadlines against a highly nuanced campaign strategy, we dedicated a specialized project manager to liaise with the communications staff to deliver mission-critical messaging and tactical support. Simultaneously, our design team continued to support the print and digital marketing needs of the campaign through Mike Duggan’s win in the general election. The candidate won the mayoral election with 55 percent of votes.

Dandelion then assisted the Transition Detroit team, reporting directly to the Mayor-elect and his core leadership team. Our role was expanded again to build a methodology and platform which allows their team to identify, cultivate and onboard high-level talent across the City that will serve on the various committees being assembled. Dandelion was charged with developing and implementing the messaging, outreach strategy, and building the technology itself.