Ray Sullivan, who led Rhode Island United's successful campaign this year to legalize same-sex marriage, is joining Checkmate Consulting Group, Brad Dufault's advertising, marketing and PR shop, as a partner.
Sullivan, 36, a former state rep and longtime political operative, calls the job a good fit since he's previously worked with Checkmate, including as part of the television and online campaign in support of same-sex marriage. "I've known these guys for a number of years," Sullivan says.
The former Coventry state rep say he expects to focus on message development and digital and grassroots advocacy on "issues and causes and candidates that I care about." Sullivan, who has already started working in his new gig, says Dufault and he are the sole partners of the company. A formal announcement is expected later this afternoon.
Rhode Island United was able to defy expectations about an uncertain outlook for same-sex marriage by deploying one of the most organized grassroots campaigns in recent local political history. As the Providence Journal recently reported, supporters of same-sex marriage also significantly outspent opponents.
Checkmate, based in East Greenwich. has done work on a number of legislative and other campaigns, including Angel Taveras' 2010 mayoral run in Providence. Dufault is the son of former state Democratic chairman Guy Dufault; the father and son previously worked together in representing the Narragansett Indian tribe. Checkmate has been hired to work on Guillaume de Ramel's 2014 campaign for secretary of state.
Sullivan says he was approached about working on 2014 political campaigns, but decided to opt for the private sector. "It felt good to be approached and to have those kinds of conversations," he says.
Sullivan previously worked on Myrth York's 2002 gubernatorial campaign, and he was the RI director for President Obama's campaign in 2008. He left a post as deputy district director for Congressman Jim Langevin to take the helm of Marriage Equality RI in 2011 as MERI was internally divided.
Sullivan says conversations continue about MERI will continue now that same-sex marriage has been legalized, although a related effort, Fight Back RI, may continue in some form to support pro-same-sex legislative candidates.