Senate Democratic Leader Lauren Book is announcing multiple key staffing moves as she seeks re-election amid a Primary challenge from former Broward County Commissioner Barbara Sharief.
At the top of that list is Christian Ulvert, taking over as a general consultant, and Nicholas Hessing, who will serve as Book’s campaign manager.
Ulvert is the founder of the South Florida-based consulting firm Edge Communications. He’s worked on Democratic campaigns in the state for years and most recently announced he was departing Sen. Annette Taddeo’s gubernatorial campaign. He recently helped Daniella Levine Cava win the Miami-Dade County Mayor’s race and also served as an adviser for Joe Biden’s 2020 presidential campaign.
Hessing, meanwhile, is a recent Florida State graduate, earning his degree in 2020. He’s worked as a legislative aide for Rep. Robin Bartleman and has also worked for Anfield Consulting.
Joining Ulvert and Hessing on the leadership team will be several other veterans of the Florida political scene. Those include senior adviser Steve Vancore, adviser Eric Johnson, campaign adviser Stephanie Bromfield, communications adviser Claire VanSusteren, and Michael Worley of MDW Communications, who will work on digital and direct mail for Book’s campaign.
“I am excited to welcome this talented and winning team of committed Democratic operatives to run a campaign focused on the issues that matter to Broward County, like expanding access to health care, defending women’s rights, protecting freedom of speech, promoting equality, and creating an economy that works for us all so that everyday Floridians can live their own version of the American dream,” Book said in a Monday statement obtained by Florida Politics.
Book rose to the Senate Democratic Leader position last year. Such a role would normally preclude a noteworthy Primary challenge. But Sharief announced in late March she would make a bid for the Senate District 35 seat.
Book, who represents the currently drawn Senate District 32, is moving her home to avoid a contest against Sen.-elect Rosalind Osgood in the newly drawn SD 32, developed during the state’s redistricting process. Instead, Book will pursue the new SD 35 seat, which covers parts of Miramar, Pembroke Pines, Weston and Southwest Ranches.
Sharief, meanwhile, ran last year in the Special Primary Election for the seat in Florida’s 20th Congressional District after facing term limits on the Broward County Commission. Sharief lost that race and had been considering another run for Congress. But the redistricting process also drew her out of the district analogous to CD 20. That led her to consider a run for the Senate.
However, the bulk of the Democratic Senate delegation is already behind Book’s bid. And the recent hires will aim to help Book gear up and hold onto the seat and her role as Senate Democratic Leader.
Vancore, coming on as a senior adviser, founded VancoreJones Communications and is a respected pollster, strategist and consultant in the state.
Both Vancore and Johnson, who joins as an adviser, have more than 30 years of experience in politics. Johnson is the founder of the Johnson Strategies consulting firm and has served roles with members of Congress, the Florida Democratic Party, and numerous state-level campaigns.
As campaign adviser, Bromfield brings experience in African American and Caribbean American voter outreach, a crucial part of the campaign. Sharief was the first Black woman Mayor of Broward County and will look to appeal to the minority community in her run.
VanSusteren has worked with Book in a communications and public relations role for several years now, serving with the Senator through her ascent to the Senate Democratic Leader position.
Worley’s MDW Communications firm has won several awards for work in the digital and direct mail spheres. He and Bromfield helped push Levine Cava over the top in that 2020 mayoral contest.
Book comes into her re-election effort with several big wins this past Legislative Session.
Gov. Ron DeSantis has already signed two priority bills pushed by Book into law. One further limits the use of physical restraints on students. The second allows the state to purchase breast milk and provide it to infants in need.
Book also scored a one-year tax break for diaper purchases in this year’s budget. The Governor has yet to sign the overall budget, but he has indicated support for the budget item.