Bill Hillsman, a political consultant whose outside the box TV ads led to the unexpected victories of Paul Wellstone and Jesse Ventura in Minnesota statewide races, has signed on to run the media campaign of independent gubernatorial candidate Christopher Daggett. In 2006, Hillsman ran the media campaign of Ned Lamont, who defeated incumbent Joseph Lieberman in the Democratic U.S. Senate primary in Connecticut.
The 55-year-old Hillsman had had some success in electing unlikely candidates. He helped Sharon Sayles Belton become the Mayor of Minneapolis and John Hickenlooper win a race for Mayor of Denver, and in 2008 he created ads for successful Democratic congressional candidates in Florida and Colorado. His ads for Physicians for a National Health Program during the Democratic presidential primaries showed ordinary citizens questioning cardboard cutouts of Barack Obama, Hillary Rodham Clinton and John Edwards over what he called a lack of leadership to establish universal health care.
But many of Hillsman’s campaigns have been unsuccessful, including Green Party presidential candidate Ralph Nader in 2000, Arianna Huffington’s short-lived bid to become Governor of California in 2003, and Kinky Friedman’s campaign for Governor of Texas in 2006.
A former state Environmental Protection Commission and Reagan administration official, Daggett has qualified for state matching funds and will have at least $1 million to spend on his long shot bid. A Quinnipiac University poll shows Daggett at 7% statewide in a race against Gov. Jon Corzine and his GOP rival, former U.S. Attorney Christopher Christie.