Democratic consultants Chuck Rocha and Kara Turrentine have teamed up to launch BlackBrown Partners, a new full-service media, mail, and digital agency with the goal of focusing on work for Democratic Party campaign committees and PACs.
“That’s where 80 percent of the money is spent,” said Rocha, adding that the majority of revenue from that spending goes to white consultants. “We’re going to create a firm that gives Democrats a chance to have Black and Brown people at the table. The country’s becoming more diverse and the leadership of the campaigns is becoming less diverse.”
Part of the lack of diversity last cycle on the left had to do with the pandemic, according to Rocha.
“Young Black and Brown firms would have spent the last year networking. That didn’t get to happen this year [because of the pandemic]. So what happens? People revert back to who they know. You close the door of opportunity. When we’re not there, and there’s only a handful of us, it dramatically affects the diversity of these campaigns.”
The D.C.-based firm opens its doors today with a virtual party and video release.
The founders, who both worked on the 2020 presidential campaign of Bernie Sanders, primarily have a background in mail, but Rocha noted that they’ve both done media through their respective shops, Turrency Political and Solidarity Strategies (which will both continue to operate).
“Have we done media with our other firms? Yes, me and Kara both have mail firms, [but] most of the spending in American politics goes into media and digital — 99 percent of those [firms] are owned by White men and White women.
“We have a lot in common, and we also feel a major void in the industry. So we are combining our forces to fix a gaping hole in the larger consultant atmosphere.”
Part of the partners’ pitch to potential clients is a “razor-edged focus” on cultural competency, which they say their competitors can’t offer. “It cannot be faked, it cannot be built — you have it or you don’t,” said Turrentine. “Every candidate needs to talk to the most diverse electorate ever — we have to build an industry that’s ready for that.”
The results of the 2020 cycle indicate there’s a need on the left for their expertise. For instance, in a cycle where the U.S. electorate was the most diverse in history, President Trump increased his share of Black and Latino votes over 2016.
“We won the White House and lost so much down-ballot. How do you change that scenario? Part of that is having the right voices at the table,” said Turrentine.