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My most unforgettable campaign moment (and more)

So, I've been sending you emails lately about Democrats Serve, our new effort to recruit, train, and support Democrats running for office who come from the ranks of our public service professionals — teachers, firefighters, social workers, nurses, police officers, judges, prosecutors, public defenders, frontline government workers, and more.

But who am I? That's a reasonable question!

I was recently interviewed by Roll Call, the Capitol Hill newspaper, and they got me to tell a bunch of my old campaign war stories. Not a bad way to introduce myself, so I thought I'd share it with you.



Roll Call

Shop talk: Brett Broesder

Broesder is the executive director of Democrats Serve, a new PAC that will support Democratic candidates with public service backgrounds. The group recently endorsed Demings' campaign for Senate in Florida.

Starting out: In 2004, Broesder, a Minnesota native, decided to transfer from Augustana University in South Dakota to Rhode Island College. When he arrived, he tried to join the College Democrats, only to find out that the group didn't exist. So he started his own group, in part because it seemed like a good way to meet people. He was right — 2004 was a presidential election year after all, so students were engaged. Broesder recalled getting a call from Seth Magaziner, the head of Brown University's College Democrats, who was coordinating other college groups to help Democrats running for office in Rhode Island. "From there I was just hooked," Broesder recalled. Magaziner, a former teacher, is now Rhode Island's state treasurer and a potential gubernatorial candidate. After college, Broesder worked for Democrat Sheldon Whitehouse's winning Senate campaign in 2006.

Most unforgettable campaign moment: Broesder was working for a direct mail firm in 2012 when he was dispatched to Arizona's 2nd District to help out Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick's campaign during the final weeks of the race. Broesder was holed up in a hotel room where the campaign was hosting its election night party, crunching numbers with other campaign staff. It looked like Kirkpatrick would win, but it would be close. When Broesder left to get food, he ran into Kirkpatrick in the hotel ballroom. She asked if he had heard anything about the results. No one else was around so Broesder told her, "So you won, but I'd recommend going to get some sleep." He later felt bad that he broke the news to Kirkpatrick rather than a staffer who had been with the campaign for months. In 2018, Broesder was working with Susan Bysiewicz's campaign for Connecticut lieutenant governor and the race was extremely close, but it looked like she could win. "I end up telling Susan the story about Ann Kirkpatrick and I go, 'Thankfully, this time as a staff member, I feel better about saying this: You should probably go get some sleep,'" Broesder said.

Biggest campaign regret: In 2010, Broesder ran Peter Kilmartin's campaign for Rhode Island attorney general, which involved a hotly contested primary. Broesder went on the record knocking Kilmartin's chief primary rival, former Providence City Solicitor Joe Fernandez, for working after college at a Wall Street firm that represented a company tied to the Enron scandal. Kilmartin prevailed in the primary and the general election. In December, Fernandez died after an illness. "You start to feel awful about how the campaign went," Broesder said. "Now I don't necessarily regret how it was run because of the outcome, but I regret the fact that that situation weighs on families — not just him passing but the stress that comes with a campaign that is very hard fought and combative."

Unconventional wisdom: "I think that there is a tendency, especially for younger folks going into campaigns, to be drawn to the splashy campaigns rather than the smaller ones where they're bound to learn so much more," Broesder said, noting that he's learned more working at the local level than in presidential and statewide campaigns. "The amount you can learn from the municipal work, whether it's running or working in it, lends itself to having a more well-rounded view of government. So I hope that folks who are younger can take a step back from the splashier side of campaigns and get into the nitty-gritty of local and state races."

Posted on June 26, 2021 in Latest Updates.