And then there were two.
TallyMadness 2020 kicked off with 68 bracketed contenders three weeks ago and after six rounds and 135,000 votes, Corinne Mixon and Justin Thames are the final two facing off to determine who Florida Politics readers consider to be the best young (under 40) lobbyist in The Process.
And it’s a matchup for the ages: SEC versus ACC, male versus female, in-house counsel versus law firm. Fortunately, the contestants remain good friends because Mixon, a government consultant for Rutledge Ecenia, and Thames, director of governmental affairs for FICPA, aren’t advocating on opposite sides of any legislation during the soon-to-end Session.
Mixon said she wasn’t doing much self-promotion at the start of the contest, but after the first couple rounds realized others were blowing up their social media seeking votes. Even then, posts were pretty much limited to her own accounts, her firm’s and her mother’s. “She’s my biggest fan,” Mixon said.
Thames came out of the gate strong, and continued to flood his Twitter feed with pictures of a cute puppy and an adorable toddler, who turned out to be his two-year-old daughter, Eliza Mae. The little Labrador retriever is a puppy named Dolly (for Dolly Parton) who joined their family last Friday. His wife was out of town so “it was me, the puppy, the toddler and a budget conference,” he said. “Not real bright on my end.”
The 36-year-old collected votes after the CPA association promoted the contest, but the fourth-generation Floridian said he was most moved by the support he received from his friends and family in Jackson and surrounding counties.
“To have so many from back home and different walks of my life outside of the political process, just taking the time to shoot me a little note and say they were you rooting for me and asking all their friends and family to vote for me … was even more rewarding.”
On the last day of voting, Mixon said she almost posted a photo of herself and Thames to show this was a competition between friends — almost.
I was worried all my Facebook friends would vote for him based on his cute looks and his adorable bow tie,” she said.
Thames said he was nervous going one-on-one against the popular Mixon, but felt the contest wasn’t nearly as cutthroat as the advocacy biz.
“Everybody that was in the competition, the majority, we’re all friends,” he said.