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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Selling Jim Davis to the masses



Anita Dunn has polished the public images of some of the biggest names in Democratic politics: Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, former New Jersey Sen. Bill Bradley and Florida's Bob Graham. All three came with obvious assets. Obama has charisma. Bradley brought academic and athletic skills. Graham connected with people in a way that made him one of the state's most popular governors and senators.

But now Dunn, a veteran political consultant and television ad maker, is taking on a client who poses a different challenge: Jim Davis. The Tampa congressman and candidate for governor has never run statewide, is facing a strong challenge from Democratic rival Rod Smith and may lack the millions needed for a sustained TV campaign. He is also widely perceived as the least dynamic personality in the four-man contest.

"Ads can make or break someone," said Morgan Felchner, editor of Campaigns & Elections magazine. "Candidates are more likely to win over voters with charisma. If a person lacks that, they are going to have to work a lot harder."

Can Dunn pull it off? She thinks so.

[Last modified: Wednesday, September 15, 2010 3:07pm]


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