How A Law Degree Helps One Campaign Consultant Stay Creative
Originally published in Campaigns and Elections Creative Newsletter on Feb. 10, 2023
Creativity and a law degree aren’t usually two things that come to mind at the same time. But Molly Sullivan, a newly minted VP of political at Go BIG Media, credits her training as an attorney with helping her think creatively on the trail. Especially during her time as deputy campaign manager for now-Rep. Harriet Hageman during the GOP primary for Wyoming’s House seat last cycle.
"Creative problem solving is the way that I’ve approached most of my life, truthfully," said Sullivan, who received her JD from the University of Denver Sturm College of Law. "When you are looking at problems less in a one-dimensional or black-and-white [way], if you let yourself explore that gray area, a lot of times you can meet voters in a way that you may not have just by looking at it in a binary sense."
Having practiced law -- and cross-examined witnesses -- helps her break down problems in a different way, she said. "It gives me the foundation of the right questions to be asking and the different pathways to explore."
That training helped in Wyoming where messaging to primary voters was challenging in a contest, at least from the outside, that appeared to be dominated by national issues because of President Trump’s antipathy towards then-Rep. Liz Cheney.
"There's a lot of challenges that come with states that are dominated by one party or another," she said.
"Data is a little bit harder to identify. Messaging: you’ve really got to be paying attention to what people are saying on the ground because what’s going on nationally isn’t necessarily going to translate to what’s going on in the state."
Sullivan added: "August primaries are just challenging in general. The volume of noise is very high nationally by August. That’s where messaging becomes really, really crucial."