LI Graduate Named a "Top 500 Influencer" by Campaigns & Elections

April 16, 2013 | By Lauren Day

How do you make the “campaign hall of fame”?

Well, let’s take a look at Leadership Institute graduate Matt Hutson who was named one of the top 500 election influencers today by the publication Campaigns & Elections.

“This award shows me that if someone consistently works hard and does it with guiding principles and moral clarity that an impact and a win can be achieved.  At the end of the election, this is what matters,” Matt shared.

So, placing into this distinguished category takes hard work and guiding principles for starters.

It also takes some wins.

And Matt has great victories deserving of the campaign hall of fame.

His latest project was as campaign director for Protect Marriage Maine, for which in just three months he organized 40 satellite offices and, through polling, took a campaign trailing by 16 percent to closing that margin to 2 percent with a budget just one-twelfth the size of the opponents who had been campaigning for three years.

Last year, Matt helped elect Roger Williams, from Austin, Texas, to U.S. Congress as his Get-Out-The-Vote Consultant in the final month of the campaign runoff. In those 30 days, Matt opened a new office, secured five new interns and multiple volunteers, and together they made more than 60,000 calls that pushed Roger Williams to victory on Election Day. Roger won by 58 percent and now serves in the U.S. House of Representatives.

In 2011, Matt helped Lenar Whitney secure a spot in the Louisiana State House. “I took over all daily and GOTV operations in the final three weeks of the runoff campaign,” Matt shared. “With no staff to manage, I developed a volunteer base and directed an aggressive, targeted canvassing program resulting in a 59 percent victory!”

Also in 2011, Matt helped Jeff Thompson win a state representative seat in Louisiana. “I took over all day-to-day and GOTV operations in the final 20 days of the campaign and directed an inexperienced staff of four to an election night victory of 57 percent, defeating an opponent who spent $200,000 of his own money.”

He also successfully worked in 2011 as the Statewide Director of Operations for Gov. Bobby Jindal’s reelection campaign, for which he oversaw all grassroots operations in the state. Matt managed more than 100 interns, the volunteer database, the yard sign identification and voter ID programs, and the GOTV strategy for 4.5 million residents.

Matt worked in February 2011 to bring Jonathan Perry, a candidate running for Louisiana State Senate, from 10 percent behind his opponent to winning by 2 percent in just a mere 12 days. Boom!

And in 2010, Matt worked as the GOTV Strategist to secure Tim Echols as Georgia’s Public Service Commissioner. Matt implemented an aggressive grassroots operation that took Echol’s campaign from “an expected second place finish to an election night victory in the four-way race by more than 7 percent,” Matt recalls.

Not only are hard work, guiding principles, and winning elections ingredients for getting added to the campaign hall of fame, but so is a good team environment.

Being a team player is the fourth attribute of highly successful campaigners.

Matt says his wife also had a large role to play in this achievement.

“In reality, the award [from Campaigns & Elections] should honor my wife as well,” Matt said. “We work together on most races and she is a constant source of strength and encouragement, coupled with incredible abilities in graphic design and photography.”

Not to mention the many staff, interns, and volunteers Matt worked with over the years that played a critical role in bringing home so many victories. Winning takes a team of folks that work well together.

Finally, highly effective campaigners are trained and continue to learn.

Matt first learned of the Leadership Institute through a friend in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where he lived. She encouraged him to sign up for a Youth Leadership School coming to Oklahoma.

Since then, Matt has taken 18 LI trainings from campaign management, public relations, campus elections, public speaking, direct mail, future candidate, international leadership training, and television training. He was also a field representative and an intern for the Leadership Institute.

“I learned one can never stop learning. The moment you rest on your current knowledge, using the resources and strengths you have garnered to-date, is the moment someone else is getting better than you. Leadership Institute classes and resources allow you to continue expanding your knowledge and ability to be successful.  I specifically would like to thank the LI grassroots division and Robert Arnakis, for allowing me to learn so much during my tenure at LI.”

“Having learned so much during my tenure at LI, I understood the importance of maintaining relationships with fellow Leadership Institute graduates and staff,” Matt said. “Those relationships have proven helpful when needing advice or anything from fundraising to contacts. More importantly, these relationships have allowed me to give back to the people that invested in my growth.”

When asked to share some advice, Matt said:

“Simple: Go to the Leadership Institute and get involved. The longer you wait to apply yourself to learning, the quicker your opponent will beat you.”

Register now for LI training. Don’t let your opponent beat you.

Please welcome Matt Hutson as a campaign all-star and as LI’s Graduate of the Week.

To nominate a Leadership Institute graduate or faculty member to be featured as LI's spotlight of the week, please contact LI's External Affairs Officer Lauren Day, formerly Lauren Hart, at Lauren@LeadershipInstitute.org.