SARASOTA — Grassroots advocacy organization Floridians for a Fair Shake was instrumental in making Congressman Vern Buchanan’s reelection campaign competitive.  Even though Buchanan ultimately defeated challenger David Shapiro, Floridians for a Fair Shake has been working in the district for much of the past year with an aggressive organizing and media campaign highlighting Buchanan’s votes on taxes and health care, which ran counter to the needs of his constituents.

“Despite Buchanan’s victory, our message to Suncoast voters connected with them. Many of them realized that Vern Buchanan’s votes on taxes and health care underscored his lack of concern for his constituents,” said Stephen Gaskill, communications director of Floridians for a Fair Shake. “Buchanan’s yacht purchase on the same day he voted himself a $2 million tax break has been the perfect illustration of what’s wrong with the Trump Tax law, and it also highlights the real reason Buchanan wanted to keep his congressional seat — to have more time to shape tax policy to benefit himself.”

Like most Republicans this cycle, Buchanan ran away from his votes on the Trump Tax law and health care. He voted to eliminate protections for pre-existing conditions with his vote for the replacement for the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and never addressed the issue during the campaign. Those actions, coupled with his failure to host a constituent town hall for more than 600 days, show how disconnected and out of touch Buchanan is with the district.

Floridians for a Fair Shake had organizers on the ground; created an advisory committee to provide advice and guidance; ran television and newspaper ads, as well as billboards; and undertook creative campaigns such as chalk art and flying plane banners over the beach. Floridians for a Fair Shake also brought in “The Captain” who starred in a popular digital ad and made appearances asking voters if they also received a yacht from their tax break, like Buchanan did.

“Defeating an entrenched and popular incumbent in a red district is a challenge, although the end result was much closer than anyone expected,” Gaskill said. “Buchanan won 59.8% of the vote in 2016 and 61.5% in 2014. This campaign to unmask his record for voters was successful despite the overall outcome. Floridians will continue to hold Vern Buchanan accountable.”

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