North Carolina’s Victory

North Carolina was a bright spot for conservatives in the 2012 election, and it took solid work from people like Leadership Institute graduate Ashton Godwin, a native of Wilmington, North Carolina, to get the job done.

Ashton, in his twenties, served as the campaign manager for Brian Brown, the newly elected District 9 Representative in the North Carolina House of Representatives. Brian ran against Democratic incumbent Marian McLawhorn, first elected in 1999.

“We were the new guys as far as local politics goes, but in the end our efforts illustrated what a motivated, energetic, qualified, and concerned citizen/candidate Brian Brown is,” Ashton said. “We were able to effectively reach out to voters in our district and promote our message. In the days leading up to the election, the GOTV methods presented in the Leadership Institute’s Campaign Management School provided me with the ability and confidence to motivate voters to get to the polls.”

“My candidate, as well as myself, were new to running for office,” Ashton said. “We agreed that we needed to be seen and heard by as many voters as possible. We utilized multiple methods to connect with voters. One of the most effective and inexpensive methods was door to door canvassing. Personally, I knocked on hundreds of doors in the last two weeks leading up to Election Day.”

“We also identified a large number of undecided voters and either my candidate or I personally called each one,” Ashton reported. “We knew that Voter ID was a highly important aspect to gaining the advantage in a campaign.”

He continued, “This is where Leadership Institute training became indispensable; I was able to utilize and implement numerous methods taught during the Campaign Management School. As a newcomer to campaigning, the material covered during the course at LI was paramount to our daily campaign and ultimately our victory in the election.”

Ashton first learned of the Institute through his friend and fellow LI graduate Chazz Clevinger. 

“He suggested I attend the Campaign Management School before I came onto Brian’s campaign,” Ashton said. “He spoke so highly of LI’s courses I knew it was an opportunity that I could not pass up.”

Ashton attended LI’s Political Voter Mail Workshop and Campaign Management School in April of this year.

“LI has been very helpful in my professional journey. It provided me with political knowledge and skills that in turn provided confidence when in professional situations,” Ashton said.  “Most importantly though, LI allowed me to meet and network with some likeminded conservative individuals. I met, interacted, and learned from some of the best political professionals in the country.”

Ashton owes a large part of who he is today to his family, his education at East Carolina University, and the United States Marine Corps, he says.

“The Marine Corps provided me with the confidence to achieve goals, which would have otherwise been overlooked or seen as unachievable. The Marine Corps instilled in me a sense of honor and integrity that is typically uncommon among so many young Americans today.”

This victory has offered 32-year-old Brian Brown his first elected position -- and at a young age. The ninth district House seat covers North Carolina’s Pitt County.

You too can be trained in the best campaign techniques. The Leadership Institute regularly offers the week-long Campaign Management School. Go here for dates and more details. Contact Heather Homan at for these trainings.


“I would recommend the Leadership Institute to any young conservative,” Ashton said.  “LI offers multiple courses that prepare any person involved in politics with a better understanding of the world of political activism. I was very impressed at the caliber of speakers and there was always a knowledgeable and overwhelmingly qualified instructor providing relevant information at each training.”

Ashton will now go with Brian to the North Carolina State Legislature as a legislative aid.

Please welcome Ashton Godwin 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 (Hart) Day at