FP1 is proud to have served as the general consultant and media firm to Sheriff Danny Diggs’ winning campaign in SD-24 in one of the highest profile legislative races in Virginia in 2023.
Retired York County Sheriff Danny Diggs squared off against Democratic incumbent State Senator Monty Mason in SD-24 in Hampton Roads, Virginia. Joe Biden carried this district in 2020 by nine points. Mason outspent Diggs by a margin of $6.5 million to $4 million in this battleground Senate race.
Being dramatically outspent in a Democratic-leaning district meant that Sheriff Diggs needed a far superior strategy and message to defeat Mason. As Diggs’ general consultant and media firm, FP1 crafted a voter contact strategy and field program to overcome these challenges. Mason’s strategy was to make this race a referendum on abortion rights. He ran several dishonest attack ads suggesting that Sheriff Diggs wanted to ban abortion outright. We counterpunched by putting Diggs’ daughter on camera to set the record straight on where the Sheriff stood on the life issue. We made it clear that Diggs was a champion for women and that he’d spent his career in law enforcement keeping families safe, while clarifying to voters that Diggs supported Governor Youngkin’s commonsense proposal to limit abortion after 15 weeks with exceptions for rape, incest and the life of the mother.
After effectively neutralizing the abortion issue, we pivoted to taxes, crime and parental rights, where Diggs had the advantage. We ran hard-hitting contrast ads that attacked Monty Mason for voting to double the gas tax, raise sales taxes and increase tolls on commuters. We exposed his vote against legislation that would have ensured that sexual battery and drug crimes committed in schools were reported to the police. In an inflection point in the race, we uncovered hot mic audio of Mason calling parental consent laws in Virginia “garbage” and “stupid.” We deployed television, digital and radio ads contrasting Mason’s callous disregard for the concerns of parents with Diggs’ commitment to stand up for moms, dads and kids in Virginia.
In the 11th hour of the campaign, Mason sensed that the race was moving against him. He launched a Hail Mary ad suggesting that Sheriff Diggs had close ties with white supremacist groups. The claims in the ads were based on wobbly opposition research. But given Diggs’ narrow path to victory, the campaign felt compelled to respond. We ran a tough negative ad called “Virginia Burning” that educated voters about Monty Mason attending a segregated high school that was founded by avowed racists during massive resistance to civil rights. In a disturbing pattern of racism, Mason and his frat buddies had mocked the brutality of slavery and held a slave auction with their pledges. These weren’t youthful indiscretions. In the Virginia Legislature, Senator Monty Mason had voted against tougher penalties on cross burning. Leaving nothing to chance, we ran another response ad from an African American Democrat, who had served as the chairman of the York County Democratic Party, vouching for Diggs and declaring that he was a strong leader who could be trusted.
On Election Day, Sheriff Diggs defeated Monty Mason by a margin of 51% to 49%. Mason was the first Democratic Senator in Virginia to lose reelection since 2011.
This victory in a Biden +9 district was a testament to the effectiveness of Diggs’ ad campaign and ground game. In today’s polarized electorate, it is becoming increasingly difficult to win in districts carried by the presidential candidate of your opposing party. Diggs effectively countered the Democrats’ abortion attacks, focused the race on taxes, crime and parental rights and won the election despite being outspent by $2.5 million. Danny Diggs ran a nearly perfect race. He out-messaged, out-worked and out-campaigned Monty Mason at every step of the campaign. FP1 is proud to have served as the general consultant and media firm to Sheriff Diggs and we wish him the best in the Virginia State Senate.