Another marketing researcher is running for elected office, this time in Virginia, bringing some MR interest to an off-year election. Linda Schulz, most recently a customer experience researcher at Nielsen, is a candidate in the 86th district for the Virginia House of Delegates.
Linda doesn't hide from her marketing research background, even though it may not always be the easiest job to explain to most people. Her campaign website explains:
"She is a market research professional and has spent her career listening to consumers to help her clients achieve success. She will use the skills she learned in business to bring a fresh and collaborative, mission-oriented perspective to the House of Delegates."
Linda went right into her marketing research career after getting a degree in Finance and Marketing from the University of Michigan, working at Research Data Analysis, a firm based in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. (The firm, owned by the Pietrowski family, was later acquired by Ipsos.) She then launched and led the commercial and specialty vehicle business (e.g., medium/heavy duty trucks, railroads, and RVs) for J.D. Power & Associates, before joining the public affairs practice at Harris Interactive. Harris would later be purchased by Nielsen, and Linda would become the company's Vice President for Customer Experience Consulting.
When Linda toldthe Connection newspaper that she would introduce legislation to make sure traffic lights are timed to prevent traffic congestion, she said it was because, "When I talk to voters, this is the topic I hear them talking about more than anything else... So my market research hat went on."
The race will not be easy, since the 86th House district generally votes Democrat, and Linda is running as a Republican. The incumbent Democrat in the seat, Delegate Jennifer Boysko, won in 2015 with 54.5 percent of the vote after a popular former mayor had held the seat for the GOP for more than a dozen years. Democrat Governor Terry McAuliffe won this district by 21 points in 2013.
I have past bemoaned the dearth of marketing research professionals in higher elected office (instead of focusing on the typical polling and consulting work) and have been pleased in recent years to see members of the marketing research profession take stabs at politics themselves. Unfortunately, while Larry Solomon won the mayor's race in Union, Kentucky, Monica Vernon's runs for Lieutenant Governor of Iowa and then for Congress both came up short, as did Linda Rebrovick's run for Nashville mayor and Candice Bennett's campaign for a spot on the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors.
Still, hope springs eternal! Are you or another researcher you know considering running for elected office? Get in touch and share your story!
DISCLAIMER: The Insights Association is a nonprofit nonpartisan association, and does not take sides in elections.