By GREGORY ZELLER
They sure grow up fast.
When last we checked in on political consulting startup Millennial Strategies, the firm was repping a few Democratic causes and gearing up for a state senate election in Brooklyn.
Now it’s knee-deep in Election 2016, with its agenda-topping race to succeed veteran U.S. Rep. Steve Israel (D-Huntington) in New York’s 3rd Congressional District, where Millennial Strategies is managing the campaign of former North Hempstead Supervisor Jon Kaiman.
The firm, split between offices in Manhattan and LaunchPad Huntington, is also running Democratic house bids in the Pennsylvania 6th, the Nevada 3rd and the Washington State 6th congressional districts.
“We’re thrilled at the direction we’re headed,” noted cofounder Jeff Guillot, an experienced political operative who launched Millennial Strategies in February 2013 with cofounder Alex Voetsch. “And we look forward to many victories this fall, legislative and otherwise.”
That “legislative and otherwise” addendum is meant to cover Millennial Strategies’ bases. Despite its headline-generating candidate work – it’s also managing campaigns for “a tangible amount of state-legislative races this year,” Guillot noted – the consultancy’s primary focus remains issue-driven politics.
To date, issue-focused clients include the New York League of Conservation Voters, the Long Island Council of Churches, Garden City-based developer Engel Burman Group and various labor unions and advocacy organizations.
“We’ve been working diligently with several statewide coalitions on a number of issues,” Guillot noted, including the “highest-profile thing we’re doing, which is working with coalitions pushing for paid family leave in New York.”
Millennial Strategies has become the Long Island organizer of the statewide campaign pushing to update New York’s paid family leave laws, organizing local press conferences – business owners and labor leaders were scheduled to beat the paid-leave drum at a joint press conference Friday in Hempstead – and lobbying state officeholders.
“The governor has made this a priority this year, and we’re pushing very aggressively to make it happen,” Guillot added. “We think this is the year. The State Assembly has already passed a version of the bill, and now it’s up to the Senate and the governor to make it happen before this legislative session ends in July.”
Millennial Strategies has also worked closely with New Yorkers Against Gun Violence, producing the organization’s annual NYC gala in November, which was headlined by comic and social critic Lewis Black. The firm is also spearheading a $1 million fundraising campaign for the School for Language & Communication Development, a private Glen Cove high school for students on the autism spectrum.
The firm’s focus on important sociopolitical issues isn’t limited to New York. In October, Millennial Strategies hired a new director of development, Joe Livoti, for the express purpose of building a national following.
Livoti, a Cold Spring Harbor resident with a 15-year résumé in the political and philanthropic arenas, has worked on campaigns at every level – from the statehouse to the U.S. Senate – in New York, New Jersey, Texas, Michigan and several other states.
“He’s been building out a national portfolio for us,” Guillot noted. “He’s one of the best political and nonprofit fundraisers in the country.”
Livoti’s connections led Millennial Strategies to those far-afield races in Pennsylvania and Washington State, and are slowly helping the startup build that strong national reputation. While “we could do more work in American Samoa,” Guillot joked, the firm is pleased with its progress so far.
And despite other opportunities, it remains steadfast in its commitment to liberal ideals.
“We would never work with an entity or a client that is pro-life, anti-gun control or any of those kinds of things,” Guillot said.
Which makes a Democrat like Kaiman, in a race as important as the New York 3rd, a tent-pole opportunity for Millennial Strategies. The contest, which is likely to include Democratic and Republican primaries before November’s general election, is in the national spotlight, making it the young firm’s highest-profile race to date – and, by far, its No. 1 Long Island priority.
“Steve Israel leaves some very big shoes to fill,” Guillot noted. “It’s no surprise there are so many formidable candidates who’ve decided to pursue this opportunity. So this is among the most-watched races not just in the Northeast, but around the country.”
Millennial Strategies, therefore, is bringing to bear every weapon in its 21st century arsenal – including a heavy focus on younger voters, a strong social media presence and a host of mobile devices and task-management apps – to carry Kaiman to victory.
“He’s a hard worker and a great candidate,” Guillot said. “I think he’s going to win.”
Of course, the New York 3rd is by no means the most-watched U.S. race this election cycle. The cantankerous run for the White House leads the way, and for a political insider like Guillot, the race couldn’t be more interesting.
He wouldn’t go on the record with an official prediction about the presidential race, though he does foresee a floor fight at the Republican National Convention, scheduled to begin July 18 in Cleveland.
“I wouldn’t be surprised at all if the Republican Party had a brokered convention,” Guillot said. “There’s such a groundswell of support for an anti-establishment candidate whose positions buck a century of historical trends within the party. They really need to figure all that out.”