Richard Fisher, a former senior aide to the Ross Perot presidential campaign, defeated Jim Mattox in last week's runoff for the Democratic U.S. Senate nomination in Texas by campaigning as a political outsider and newcomer to politics, like Mr. Perot. The millionaire businessman also spent his own money-more than $1.5 million for the March primary and last week's runoff campaigns. And he advocates a new approach to Washington politics.
Mr. Fisher relied on experienced Democratic political media consultants Strother/Duffy/Strother, Washington, to run a hard-hitting TV campaign that helped him land 54% of the vote in the runoff.
The new-to-politics positioning was effective against Mr. Mattox, a well-known but controversial Democrat, who as a two-term state attorney general aggressively challenged consumer product companies and their ads.
"Rick Fisher ran as an outsider, a businessman and as someone who wanted to bring a new approach to Washington," said George Strong, Democratic political consultant in Houston. "The TV spots worked for him and were instrumental in getting him through the primary and winning the runoff."
Mr. Fisher, fluent in Spanish, targeted the Hispanic market in both the primary and runoff elections with TV spots where he switched back and forth between Spanish and English.
"Part of the key to his success in these commercials was his ability to transition between the two languages," said a campaign spokesman. Radio spots in Spanish were also part of the mix.
Mr. Fisher, 45, will continue to use the outsider theme in the general election in November against incumbent Republican Kay Bailey Hutchison, who last year won a special election to the Senate by defeating Mr. Fisher, among others.
Mr. Fisher is fond of saying that Sen. Hutchison was elected to the Texas House of Representatives the year after he graduated from college. "She's old status-quo professional politician, an insider," he said last week. "I'm an outsider."
The two candidates are expected to spend $8 million to $10 million each.