Indiana State Senator J.D. Ford


Defining Your Opponent

J.D. Ford became Indiana’s first openly gay legislator in 2018 after beating an almost 15-year incumbent and vocal opponent of gay marriage.

The Challenge: Defeat A Well-Known Homophobe. In 2018, the Indiana legislature was not only lacking LGBTQ+ representation, but was actively committed against it. It was one of only five states without protection for hate crimes committed against marginalized groups. Ford’s opponent, Mike Delph, had been in office since 2005 and was best known for his vocal opposition to marriage equality. After losing to Delph in 2014 by less than 2,400 votes, Ford wanted a rematch.


Our Solution: Defining Our Opponent. We needed to prove clearly and aggressively that Mike Delph was an out-of-touch, extremist, right-wing politician. We chose to produce a thirty second video utilizing tough, intense visuals establishing that Mike Delph was unqualified to continue in the State Senate. We then directed the video via pre-roll and connected television to moderate women and aired the ad on cable television on channels that targeted middle-aged women.


The Result: A Historical Upset to the Status Quo. In 2018, Ford unseated Delph with nearly 57%, making him Indiana’s first openly gay legislator. In Ford’s own words, it is “a clear indication that Senate District 29 is moving to a more progressive district.” Early into Ford’s time in office, Governor Eric Holcomb signed an anti-hate crime bill, removing Indiana from the list. While Ford opposed it for being non-exclusive, it was undoubtedly a major milestone for the state. Ford remains in office and continues to advocate for marginalized groups.

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