As competitive swimmers for the Cougars, Michael ’05 and Millard Mulé ’06 learned what it meant to work hard and sacrifice for a goal. Balancing athletics commitments with academics required dedication and fortitude.
And it’s those skills, the twin brothers say, that helped give them an edge as they forged careers as political consultants.
“Swimming and politics are very similar,” says Millard. “You have to set goals and you have to put in the work to
achieve those goals.”
But there’s one major difference. “Swimming affords medals for second or third place,” says Michael. “In political campaigns, there is no second place. You have to win.”
The pair got their professional start in politics a decade ago. Michael got his first paid gig in 2006 as a staffer for a congressional candidate in Louisiana. Then the brothers helped Tim Mallard earn a seat on Charleston City Council in 2007.
A couple months later, they launched their political consulting firm, UPT Strategies – a nod to “Uptown” New Orleans, where they grew up.
In addition to running UPT, Michael is the public information officer for Berkeley County, S.C. Millard left his role with the firm in January to work full time as the communications director for Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry, whom the brothers helped elect in 2015.
A life in politics came naturally for Michael and Millard. Their father served as an elected judge in Louisiana for 24 years. Their childhood neighbors successfully ran for local, state and federal offices. And their mom once represented Louisiana as a delegate at a Democratic National Convention.
Funnily enough, while the political world of their upbringing made an impression on the brothers – the Democratic affiliation of their parents and neighbors did not. The Mulé brothers are ardent Republicans, and UPT Strategies only represents Republican campaigns and causes.
“We learned how Democrats won and now we know how to defeat them,” jokes Michael.
Drawn to the conservative mantra of hard work and self-reliance, Michael and Millard, who both would major in business administration, were already confident Republicans by the time they arrived in Charleston. As College Republicans, they regularly engaged in political activities on campus – the highlight of which was debating Al Sharpton during a visit to the College amid his 2004 presidential bid.
“The diversity of the students and classes at the College and the respectful challenge by classmates and professors with different political perspectives shored up our political arguments,” Millard says.
In the eight years since launching UPT Strategies, the Mulés have represented a wide range of candidates, from local prosecutors and state legislators to members of Congress and state Republican parties from Texas to Maine to Arkansas to New Jersey. The firm offers a variety of services, including campaign management, telephone services, digital media, graphic design, mail and other print materials.
The brothers have made a name for themselves representing less traditional candidates, including state Rep. Samuel Rivers Jr., the only African American Republican in the South Carolina legislature, and state Sen. Katrina Shealy, who was South Carolina’s only female senator for several years.
In the summer of 2015, the Rand Paul campaign sought Michael’s political expertise and hired him to be the South Carolina consultant for the presidential candidate. Michael also organized volunteers and helped manage Paul’s visits and events across the state.
Amid such an unpredictable election cycle, Millard says it’s a great time to be in politics: “I think it’s been really exciting because what you see is a distaste for career politicians and an acceptance of quote-unquote outsiders.”
The Mulé brothers’ political prowess has earned industry kudos as well, including multiple Pollie Awards from the American Association of Political Consultants, dubbed by Esquire magazine as the “Oscars of political advertising.” Campaign and Elections magazine honored the Mulés last year for running the best “get out the vote” operation in the nation.
But the true reward, the brothers insist, is working with candidates they believe will make a difference.
“At the end of the day, we’re electing people who really will help the average Joe,” Michael says.
A 2014 Stratford graduate waged a successful, albeit last-minute, write-in campaign to secure a seat on the Soil and Water Commission.
Phillip Habib, 20, of Goose Creek is a junior at Wofford College, but he will be coming back to Berkeley County every fourth Tuesday of the month to sit on the commission. Habib got 463 write-in votes during the general election Nov. 8. His next closest opponent, Charles Glover, received 148 votes.
In all, voters wrote in 5,228 names for the open spot on the ballot.
This was Habib’s first run for public office, but he’s worked with the county’s soil and water district before.
Habib’s campaign began about a week before the election when he was filling out his absentee ballot and noticed the commission seat had only a write-in option.
“Why is this happening?” Habib recalled thinking. He said he called the chairman of the Soil and Water commission and he was told that a commissioner declined to participate in this year’s election, leaving the spot on the ballot open.
“I decided why not me? Why not now? So I did it and here I am,” Habib said.
He launched a Facebook page and “it caught on like wildfire,” he said.
“People shared all of my posts,” Habib said. “I was actually very surprised at how many votes I got. I did not think I would get that many.”
Habib said his platform is based on balance: continue to grow industry but also preserve Berkeley County’s natural beauty.
“I’m excited to serve the people of Berkeley county and make sure we remain the beautiful county that we are,” he said.
Habib is in environmental studies at college — something he hopes will help him serve his new constituents well.
“I’ll be able to implement the things I’m learning in the classroom.”
With all precincts reporting, unofficial results show the parks and libraries bond referendum has passed and the referendum on the town's form of government has failed.
The "yes" vote on the bond has remained at about 60 percent of the vote most of the night, with the final tally at 26, 346 in favor and 17,021 against.
The referendum on Summerville's form of government is at 57 percent to retain the town's strong-council form, with 6,084 voting in favor of a change to strong-mayor and 8,153 voting to keep the strong-council form.
Read the full article here: http://www.journalscene.com/news/election-dorchester-county-results/article_1267fb60-a5d3-11e6-9bfe-4fdf301776bf.html
The Charleston tri-county area will have some new faces in the Statehouse, but only the House District 114 seat in West Ashley appears to be changing parties.
In unofficial results, with all precincts reporting, Republican Lin Bennett, former chairwoman of the Charleston County GOP, led the District 114 race with 57 percent of the vote. Democrat Bob Aubin, a social justice advocate, had 43 percent.
The district stretches from West Ashley into Dorchester County and previously has been held by Democrat Mary Tinkler.
There were four contested House races in Charleston County.
In the House District 110 race, with 23 of 23 precincts reporting, Republican William Cogswell Jr. was in the lead with 65 percent of the vote, according to unofficial results. Democrat Alice Wakefield, a retired university professor, had 35 percent.
The district covers parts of Mount Pleasant and Charleston and came open after Republican state Rep. Chip Limehouse announced his retirement.
In the House District 116 race, with 15 out of 15 precincts reporting, Democrat Robert L. Brown, who also ran as a Working Families Party candidate, had 54 percent of the vote in unofficial results. Republican Carroll O'Neal of Johns Island had 46 percent.
The district covers lower Charleston County into Colleton County.
In House District 119, Democrat Leon Stavrinakis, who has held the seat since 2006, had 61 percent of the vote in unofficial results with all precincts reporting. Republican Lee Edwards of West Ashley, who has served on the St. Andrews Public Service District Commission, among other government posts, had 39 percent.
The district includes parts of West Ashley and Johns Island.
There were two contested Berkeley County House races.
In House District 15, with 8 of 9 precincts reporting, pastor and two-term incumbent Republican Samuel Rivers Jr. had 63 percent of the vote in unofficial results. Democratic challenger K.J. Kearney had 37 percent.
The district is centered around Goose Creek but includes parts of Charleston County.
In House District 100, with 20 of 21 precincts reporting, Republican Sylleste Davis, a Santee Cooper retiree has 67 percent of the vote in unofficial results. Democrat Tonia Aiken-Taylor, a Moncks Corner Town Council member, had 33 percent.
The seat covers areas from Moncks Corner to Summerville. It was previously held by state Rep. Eddy Southard, who left office earlier this year after being accused of harassment in the Statehouse. Davis won the special election to succeed Southard.
There was only one contested House race in Dorchester County.
In House District 94, with all 25 precincts reporting, Republican Katie Arrington had 72 percent of the vote in unofficial results. Democratic challenger Damian Daly had 28 percent.
Elsewhere, the state will have its first openly gay lawmaker. Republican Jason Elliott of Greenville ran unopposed for the House District 22 seat.
And there will be a fourth woman in the state Senate.
In the close Senate District 22 race, with 36 of 38 precincts reporting, Democratic incumbent Mia McLeod had 53 percent of the vote in unofficial results. Republican challenger Susan Brill, a Richland County school board member, had 47 percent.
The three other women in the Senate are: West Ashley Republican lawyer and newcomer Sandy Senn, who ran unopposed to fill the seat left vacant by retiring Sen. Paul Thurmond, R-Charleston, and incumbent Sens. Katrina Shealy,
R-Lexington, and Margie Bright Matthews, D-Walterboro, who ran unopposed.
State Senate District 23
In the southern part of Lexington County, state Sen. Katrina Shealy – one of only two women now in the state Senate – handily defeated two challengers for the District 23 seat.
“I’m proud of what we’ve done so far, but I’m looking forward to doing more,” said Shealy, who advocated for children while sitting on a state Senate panel that investigated the embattled Department of Social Services.
Shealy defeated general contractor Michael Sturkie and Patricia Wheat, who owns a telephone and internet services company.
In the race for S.C. House District 15 Rep. Samuel Rivers beat out his opponent Steven Smith with 73.02 percent of the vote (628/860 votes). Rivers is challenged by Democrat Michael Kearney Jr. in November.
Berkeley County Councilman Ken Gunn and S.C. Sen. Larry Grooms appear to have won back their seats. Barring a petition candidate (deadline is July 15 for registration) or a successful write-in campaign, they will face zero opposition in November.