Mellman Group Honored With 3rd Award For “Best Bare-Knuckled Street Fight Victory” For Shontel Brown’s Victory in Ohio-11’s Special Primary Election in 2021

The Mellman Group is pleased to announce that we have been honored with the 2022 Campaigns & Elections Reed Award for Best Bare-Knuckled Street Fight Victory for leading DMFI PAC’s IE in Ohio’s 11th congressional district, where we helped now Congresswoman Shontel Brown overcome a 35-point deficit to upset Nina Turner.

In addition to her huge lead in her own poll, Turner had the endorsement of the then Mayor of Cleveland and popular Democrats like Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. This national profile gave her a substantial fundraising advantage to generate over $6 million in contributions while Brown raised about $2.4 million. Many concluded Turner was a lock to win, with PredictIt’s betting market giving us only a 10% shot.

Nonetheless, our polling revealed a path to victory. We tested positive messaging, focused on Brown’s work for the community and her support for the Biden-Harris agenda, as well as a contrast with Turner.

Experimental designs in our polling demonstrated this combination of positive and contrast could catapult Brown to a 6-point victory.

With the invaluable help of Sena Kozar Strategies, The Dover Group, Trilogy Interactive, and Stanford Campaigns, all of whom shared in the award, we deployed outstanding TV, digital and mail repeating these core messages sponsored by DMFI PAC’s $2.1 million spending on the race. As an IE, we carefully rotated our positive and contrast ads based on analysis of tracking.

This bare-knuckled street fight resulted in a huge upset and nearly a 6-point victory for Brown on election day that resonated across the country.

Headlines underlined the impact:

“In String of Wins, ‘Biden Democrats’ See a Reality Check for the Left”

New York Times

“Brown overcame Turner’s massive polling lead and considerable fundraising edge thanks in part to DMFI (PAC)’s investment of more than $2 million in support of her bid.”


Receiving this award for the third time clearly demonstrates The Mellman Group’s expertise at winning the toughest races around.

This year, Brown faced a primary rematch from Nina Turner. With the help of DMFI PAC and our polling and research strategies here at The Mellman Group, Congresswoman Brown defeated Turner by a huge 66% to 34%.

We are so honored for this recognition by the distinguished Campaigns & Elections community and cannot wait to continue to win these hard-fought races for our clients.


Whether winning for you means getting more votes than your opponent, selling more product, changing public policy, raising more money or generating more activism, The Mellman Group transforms data into winning strategies.