"This is the man," Meet the Oklahoman who helped Trump win
OKLAHOMA CITY (KOKH) —
It was the night of Donald J. Trump’s first win.
He was on stage in New Hampshire accepting victory over his fellow Republicans in the nation’s first primary. During his speech, he took a moment to thank his staff. “Get over here,” Mr. Trump said to a man standing off camera, “Get over here.”
Emerging through the crowd was someone a national audience had never seen, but it was the man Mr. Trump wanted them to know, “Come here,” Trump said as Stuart Jolly emerged from the people behind the podium. “This is the man,” Trump said of Jolly.
“He brought me up to the microphone,” Jolly recalls, “That was quite a night, quite a night.”
Jolly, is fairly well known to people in Oklahoma’s political circles. To the national political punditry, he was virtually unknown. That’s the way he liked it. Getting on stage was not something he had planned on as the votes came in that night in New Hampshire.
“He [Mr. Trump] came by and said ‘You're going on stage.’ And I said Mr. Trump I don't want to go on stage he walked away and then came back and said ‘You're going on stage,’ Jolly told FOX 25 about the night before the New Hampshire victory speech. “I said seriously Mr. trump it's your night you get up there and then he taps me on the chest and he said ‘You're going on stage; I wouldn't be here without you.’”
Jolly had been hired into the Trump campaign, initially, in a much smaller role. His experience running Oklahoma campaigns was a good fit for where Trump needed help. The southeastern states that made up “Super Tuesday” voting.
Soon, it was clear that for Trump to survive through “Super Tuesday,” he needed more early wins. Jolly’s unique brand of Oklahoma campaigning was moved to New Hampshire. “I think what I brought to New Hampshire was focus,” Jolly said, “I focused them, I focused on the grass roots.”
Soon after the New Hampshire win Trump promoted Jolly to be his national field director.
“Mr. Trump told me, I asked him what he wanted me to do and he said win, just win. I want you to win, I hire professionals so I don't have to tell you what to do.”
Jolly hired staff to run each state. While it was a bigger job than he had ever done before, he treated it like he had previous successes. A strategy that confused those used to a much different presidential campaign strategy.
“I think Politico criticized me or Washington Post criticized me at some point for not having national experience,” Jolly said, “It wasn't national at all. It was a state by state by state. How I ran New Hampshire, I didn't run Texas; How I ran Oklahoma I didn't run Missouri.”
Jolly would leave the campaign with much of what he calls “Trump One,” the original staff members that got the campaign through the primaries. By the time he left the campaign had secured 22 primary wins. Jolly went from the campaign to a pro-Trump Super PAC where he continued doing what he had been doing; working to win.
“We focused on the grass roots and not talking about what we were doing,” Jolly said, “We did not want to incentive the other side to work harder.”
There were times during the campaign Jolly and others were discouraged. He says the discouragement came when he would watch outsiders describe what was happening with the campaign. They painted a different picture than the one he knew as an insider.
On election night, he watched from the nation’s capital. First Ohio came in for Trump, then Florida. State by state, Jolly saw his work paying off.
“I wouldn't say stunned, but we ran through the streets of Washington D.C.; there were about 20 or 30 of us who ran through the streets screaming it was awesome.”
So how did Trump win?
It is a question that is still being debated. However Jolly believes the answer is simple. They did not target the likely voters. They went to people who had given up on voting.
“We targeted those who had not been in the process for a while who had simply been left behind.”
Jolly said 2017 will begin with major changes as the new president takes over and begins fulfilling campaign promises.
“In six months you'll never know President Obama had been president for eight years,” Jolly predicts due to the reliance on executive orders that a President Trump can quickly overturn.
Jolly is not planning to join the administration. He plans to continue splitting his time between Oklahoma and Washington helping, at first, ensure Trump’s picks for his administration get through the Senate.