When Ron (Sachs) met Matt (Gaetz)


Ron Sachs, one of Tallahassee’s premier pitchmen, comes from a progressive background: Iconoclast college newspaper editor, spokesman for Democratic Gov. Lawton Chiles and the state’s teachers’ union, speechwriter for Democratic Gov. Reubin Askew.

Matt Gaetz, a firebrand state representative from Northwest Florida, is the picture of Republican values: Tax cutter, gun rights defender, abortion foe.

So why did Sachs, CEO of the eponymous PR shop, give $2,500 to Gaetz’s campaign this week? (Here’s the Federal Election Commission filing).

Gaetz, Republican candidate for the solidly-conservative 1st Congressional District, is thought to be a shoo-in.

“I am a Democrat who supports candidates and leaders whom I respect, like and believe in — regardless of party affiliation,” Sachs said in an email. “I don’t agree with every policy position of Matt Gaetz, but I am certain that he will represent his district, Florida, and our country with distinguished public service in the U.S. Congress.

“That means everything to me,” he said. “I have had the privilege of working with two great governors, and it wasn’t necessary for me to personally agree with all of their positions to be proud of their leadership and commitment to serving our state.”

Added Gaetz in a text message: “Ron Sachs was a guest professor of mine at FSU in 2003. I was enamored by his passion for community service then, and he has been willing to take my call ever since.

“I’m honored to have his support.”

For sure, Sachs had admitted he needed to “rebrand” himself when Jeb Bush took over the governor’s mansion in 1999.

“It would have been as if we’d erected a giant neon ‘D’ on top of my building for the perception that I was a Democratic communications company,” Sachs told Florida Trend in 2011.

So during the Bush years, Sachs “carv(ed) out niches in corporate branding, marketing, crisis management,” building the multimillion dollar PR juggernaut his firm is today.

“I kind of like where I’ve evolved to being politically … not being buttonholed,” he told the magazine.

There is this tweet he posted earlier this year: “Congrats @tdonline 4 finally reading political winds; shifting to “right” side #Tallahassee. ‘Tally Republican’ ain’t no fool”

But it was tweeted April 1 – aka April Fool’s Day.


Jim Rosica

Jim Rosica is the Tallahassee-based Senior Editor for Florida Politics. He previously was the Tampa Tribune’s statehouse reporter. Before that, he covered three legislative sessions in Florida for The Associated Press. Jim graduated from law school in 2009 after spending nearly a decade covering courts for the Tallahassee Democrat, including reporting on the 2000 presidential recount. He can be reached at jim@floridapolitics.com.


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