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10/30/2012 9:48:00 PM
A close look at Democrat Justin Moed, running for House District 97 seat

Ryan Simpson, Butler University

Justin Moed has knocked on more than 12,000 doors, lost 10 pounds and been bitten by two dogs since March.

He’s a 28-year-old Democratic candidate for state representative in District 97 whose campaign is attracting attention throughout the state.

“I’m a Republican, but Justin has my vote,” Jonathan Morgan, an Indianapolis resident, said.

Moed is a native Hoosier and a graduate of Butler University. His first job in politics consisted of holding the statehouse doors open for legislators. He quickly worked his way up the ranks, and eventually became a campaign manager and an assistant policy director in the Democratic Party.

The seat in his district became available when the incumbent, Mary Ann Sullivan, decided to run for a Democratic Senate seat.

Some important points of Moed’s platform are job creation throughout the state, monitoring government spending and solving what he calls an “abandoned housing crisis” within his district.

Moed is running against a 32-year old Republican named A.J. Feeny-Ruiz.

Feeny-Ruiz also has never held a state office. He hopes to create more jobs within the state of Indiana and lower taxes to allow businesses to invest.

Moed has also received support from groups such as Stand for Children, The Indiana Professional Firefighters Union and the Indiana State Teachers Association.

Groups such as Hoosiers for Economic Growth and the National Federation of Independent Business Endorsers support Feeny-Ruiz.

Here’s what it’s like behind the scenes of the Moed campaign.

Rob Esposito: Campaign strategist

Esposito is the main consultant in the Moed campaign and the creator of all direct-mail pieces. He picks and chooses the pictures for Moed’s mail pieces, decides when they will be sent out, and the strategy behind them.

“If A.J. decides to go negative, then we need to be ready for that,” Esposito said.

A couple of weeks ago, the Feeny-Ruiz campaign released a mail piece critical of Moed’s past political alliances to former House Minority Leader Pat Bauer. This mail piece was quickly countered with a piece calling for an end to negative campaigning. It also brought to attention the fact that Feeny-Ruiz’s ex-employer, former Indiana Secretary of State Charlie White, had been convicted of felony voter fraud.

Esposito has had decades of experience in politics. He has worked in more than 75 races in 18 states.

Graham Fishell: The intern

Fishell is a senior at Butler University majoring in political science and working on the Moed campaign part-time. He is the director of field operations and special projects.

“Media is always welcome to canvass with our campaign,” Fishell said. “We want  them to really get to know Justin.”

Jeff LeFors: Design

Jeff LeFors is the founder of LeFors Design, an Indianapolis-based graphics and social media design firm. LeFors works on designing of all of the Moed campaign's print and electronic graphics. He is responsible for creating Moed’s current campaign logo, which is blue and green and contains the outline of a house.

“We included the house in the design because we wanted to personalize Justin’s campaign, and show that he’s dedicated to the neighborhoods in his district,” Lefors said.

Kristin Jones: Social media strategist

In addition to her role as a volunteer coordinator, Jones is in charge of maintaining the campaign Facebook page. According to Jones, about 800 people per week typically see this page. She tries to post multiple time a day covering topics such as Moed’s platform and photos of the campaign trail. Her work has garnered attention of many across the state.

“I think Justin’s social media is the best in the state,” Aaron Buxter, a campaign manager at the Indiana Democratic caucus, said.

He was not the only one raving about the campaign’s social media presence.

“I knew Justin in college and the campaign Facebook page gives me a great deal of insight into his life,” Jonathan Himes, a Teach For America employee, said.

 Recently a link for a petition for clean campaigns went viral after Jones uploaded it to the campaign Facebook page. The link was shared more than 60 times in three days.

Christian Shuck: Media relations and fundraising

Shuck is in charge writing media releases, contacting press and fundraising for the campaign. To date, Moed’s political campaign has raised more than $60,000.

“We’re happy with how we’ve done in fundraising so far,” Shuck said. “Hopefully we can make one last push before the election.

Justin Moed: The man with the plan

Moed first began to knock on voters’ doors in March when the temperature was still in the 30s.

 “When I first started, I wore a big winter jacket,” Moed said. “I wore the same jacket this weekend, so I know the election is close.”

One of his latest campaign mailing pieces was entitled “A Plan For Our Neighborhoods.” It lays out eight specific issues he wants to address if elected to office. They are jobs, abandoned housing, crime, infrastructure, education, health care, mass transit, and the performance of the state government.

The reactions he received on Saturday while walking from door to door were mixed. Some residents were ecstatic to see a politician talking to them about their concerns.

“I’ve lived here for more than 15 years and never had a politician knock on my door,” Indianapolis resident Joe Parway said.

Others were less than thrilled to receive another political mailing.

“Politicians are just talk to me,” Eileen Vallers said. “They never do anything after they’re elected.”

Moed will spend the next week attempting to secure as many votes as possible. His plans for Election Day are to sit back and enjoy the show.

“My team and I will end the day in a local restaurant called the Gas Light Inn,” Moed said. “We’re excited and anxious to see the results pile in.”

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