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League of Conservation Voters Case Study: Defeating an Enemy of the Environment

    • The Challenge

      The 2012 New York State Senate race between prosecutor and former Monroe County legislator Sean Hanna and Ted O'Brien, the Democratic leader in the County Legislature, was for a historically Republican open seat—one of only two open seats in the Senate. As a result of this and the achievable goal of flipping control of the chamber, both parties intended to win.

    • The BerlinRosen Approach

      Working from the most basic and uncontroversial of pro-environment positions—the desire to have clean air and water—BerlinRosen developed a campaign incorporating direct mail and television advertising that portrayed Hanna as anti-science; someone whose environmental positions were so indefensible that voters could not trust him to fight for their well-being. Closer to the election, phones also delivered a pro-O'Brien message.

    • The Outcome

      A month out from the election, a Siena College poll gave Republican Hanna an eight-point lead. But on election night, the results were clear: Democrat O'Brien won by 4,930 votes—52 percent to 48 percent.

    What they said: “Brace yourself, Rochester - there's more political mail coming your way. A pair of new mailers focused on Mendon Assemblyman Sean Hanna are set to begin hitting mailboxes today…The New York League of Conservation Voters is… blasting Hanna for sponsoring a bill that would change the state's pesticide laws, repealing certain portions and clarifying the definition of a pesticide. They also rip Hanna for voting against a bill that would have further regulated certain chemicals in children's products.” - Rochester Democrat and Chronicle

    “I wanted to thank you for your great efforts for the New York League in this election. We were able to make a really big impact and were very successful in our races. Your ads were terrific, especially the ones against Sean Hanna.” - Client email