Elnatan Rudolph is a name you need to know and a person you want on your side. Very few politicos outside the Tallahassee beltway know of this rising political star’s influence in Florida politics. If you never heard of Elnatan before this INFLUENTIAL Interview, that’s ok, because Mr. Rudolph has purposely kept many in the dark over the years. But now, in a rare interview that only The Influential could secure, we pull back the curtain on what Roger Stone has named one of the best young political consultants in Florida – Mr. Elnatan Rudolph.
SLEVIN: Roger Stone, in his recent Influential Interview, named you as one of the best young political consultants in Florida. I understand Roger has been a mentor, of sorts, to you over the years. How did you meet Roger and what have you learned from one of the fathers of modern-day political consulting?
RULDOPH: I was introduced to Roger by Democratic Political Consultant Hank Sheinkopf in New York. When I went to work for Hank I was his “Republican” having worked on Republican races such as Rudy Giuliani, and other Statewide and local Republican campaigns. Then when I went to work with Roger, I was his “Democrat” of sorts. Roger and I worked on our first race in Ohio in 2006 and after that he brought me to Florida to work on a State Senate race and several statewide initiatives.
SLEVIN: So is it accurate to say that you’re a Republican political consultant?
RULDOPH: No. it isn’t accurate to say that. I tell people that depending on which state I am in - I am known as different things. In New York I was known as a Democratic Political Operative. In NJ, I was a councilmember with close ties to the Bergen County Democratic Party Chairman and in Florida I am most known as a Republican consultant. So I don’t think it is accurate to call me a Republican political consultant, rather than just a political consultant.
SLEVIN: I hear on the rumor mill that you’ve worked on nearly 1000 political campaigns?
RULDOPH: I think I started that rumor when I was first running for town council in 2006. At the time, I had worked with Hank Sheinkopf for 5 years and was just starting to work with Roger Stone. At any given time at Sheinkopf, we were working on dozens of campaigns at once. So I think I said in an interview that I worked on something like 800 campaigns. This is more than accurate, as just in the last year alone since launching my texting service, I have worked on 100 campaigns. So I don’t know if it is 1,000, but probably not far off from it, given my first campaign was when I worked on Rudy Guilani’s 1993 election at 12 years old.
SLEVIN: Given that you’re under 40, that’s still a very impressive number of campaigns and experience accumulated. What was your most satisfying campaign victory to date? Why did it mean so much to you?
RULDOPH: When I was 24 and having lived in Teaneck, NJ for just over a year, I ran for town council. I barely knew 5 people in town, but I ran an effective campaign and got elected. No doubt that had to be my most satisfying race.
SLEVIN: You live in New Jersey, but I see you working on quite a number campaigns in Florida. What campaigns can you share with our readers that you’ve worked on or currently working on in Florida and abroad?
RULDOPH: My wife says that she doesn’t need to check the weather forecast, she just needs to check my flight schedule to see when it is going to snow. I have been lucky for the past 12 years to work often in Florida. I have made friends in the process in Tallahassee and have worked the State on behalf of great candidates. I plan to be involved in top and down ballot races throughout this election cycle.
SLEVIN: You’ve developed an impressive technology niche and reputation for yourself. What is it that you’re offering candidates and political organizations that’s hot right now? How is this technology changing the electoral playbook for campaigning?
RULDOPH: I have spent my career working on how to bring technology and political campaigns together. In 1996, I was sending e-mails out for campaigns when no one else was. In 2011-2013, I was doing apps for campaigns. In 2015, I had a technology for elected officials to do podcasting on our platform. Today, I focus on text messaging for elected officials and political campaigns. People don’t use landlines anymore, rarely read their mail, and get too much spam in their e-mail box that their phone is the one place that you can still reach them.
SLEVIN: There’s a lot of buzz going around the country that a “blue wave” is cresting toward the mid-term elections. We’ve seen some strong republican legislative districts vote democrat in a few Florida special elections. Is there a “blue wave” coming or is something else happening?
RULDOPH: First off, I don’t think you can look at a special election when the Democrats are able to focus all of their energy, efforts and money in one election as a barometer of what is to come. November is a life time away. I keep my betting to the blackjack table, so I wouldn’t place any bet on the Democratic takeover of the House or Senate, but we will see in 7 months.
SLEVIN: Florida is a very competitive state with many elite level political consultants, many of whom, we know and call friends. What do you tell prospective clients about your services and why do they ultimately retain your services?
RULDOPH: I don’t believe in being everything to everyone. I also like to be a part of a team. So throughout my career, I have tried to develop the ability to focus on a specific part of the campaign strategy where I can work with others. So I don’t look at anyone as my competitor rather than as my colleague and collaborator.
SLEVIN: Who do you see winning the gubernatorial nominations in Florida and who will win both the gubernatorial and senatorial general elections? Why?
RULDOPH: There is over 4 months till the primary election and 7 months till election day. That is like a lifetime in politics.
Adam Putnam - The Ag Commissioner has raised a nice amount of money. A massive war chest, but for a guy who has been running for Governor for the past 8 years, he surprisingly hasn’t built a statewide network that he should have had by now.
Richard Corcoran – As speaker he should have raised a lot more money than he has. He didn’t raise the money that he needed and spent a tremendous amount of money to barely be a blip on the polls.
Ron DeSantis - No doubt that appearing on Fox News works. Every time I turn around I see him on Fox. If I were a regular voter who doesn’t follow politics every day, I would know the name Ron DeSantis and I would know that he was endorsed by Donald Trump.
The Democrat field is still a complete unknown.
So can’t really tell you who will win a General election without knowing who the 2 candidates are.
Senate – Will Rick Scott put in his own money to have the massive war chest he did in 2010? If he has 50-75 million dollars, I believe Rick Scott beats Bill Nelson. Scott has handled himself well. And been at the front of major events like the bridge collapse, Irma, and more than one major shooting.
SLEVIN: The body of your work certainly has created an international platform of operations. What are your professional plans 5, 10 years out?
RULDOPH: Bouncing between NJ and Florida just as I have for the past 10 years. In the next 5 years, I will just be 40. And have no plans to slow down anytime soon. I will probably be sharing my time between politics and health and fitness.
SLEVIN: What is your philosophy for success?
RULDOPH: Even when I seem to not be working I am. I am always thinking of who I need to reach out to next. I set reminders in my phone when I have an idea on something that I want to do. And don’t take the reminder off until it is done. Also, I believe in following up with people, some will say too much. I will e-mail or text people to follow up with them till they tell me to go away.
SLEVIN: Tell me a bit about your family and what’s up with that kickboxing?
RULDOPH: My wife and I live in Teaneck, NJ with our 4 kids ages 12, 10, 7 & 3 - 3 girls and a boy. My wife and I were both overweight, and 7 years ago we decided to change that. Today, I kickbox at least 3 times a week and spin or bike ride daily. My wife is a fitness instructor and teaches fitness to high school girls.
SLEVIN: El thanks for taking the time to speak with us at The Influential. Where can folks follow you on social media and online for more information?
RULDOPH: I’m om Facebook. But just a warning, the only thing you will see are pictures of my family, me traveling and my workouts. I don’t use my Facebook for anything political. I can be reached via facebook, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or on my cell at 347-610-2688.