Paulson Campaign Gains Steam, Endorsement From Legendary College Football Coach

    Campaign manager says financial reports will show the veteran and businessman has likely outspent incumbent Mayor John “Buddy” Dyer.


    By Jacob Engels


    Paul Paulson, a businessman and veteran who is running an aggressive campaign to unseat incumbent Mayor Buddy Dyer, has added more people to his campaign leadership team – according to a source close to the campaign.


    Several weeks ago, we learned that Mike Shirley, a veteran of numerous campaigns including Governor Rick Scott, Commissioner Pete Clarke – and also spent time advising the Republican Party of Florida and the Republican National Committee, had been appointed campaign manager for the campaign.


    Sarlo, who was announced as communications director earlier this month.


    And earlier this month, Elaine Sarlo, President of the nationally recognized University of Central Florida College Republicans, was announced as campaign Communications Director – according to Frank Torres of Florida Politics. Mr. Torres also was the first to report the hire of Campaign Manager Mike Shirley.


    Sarlo, a junior majoring in communications. recently lead an effort that landed the UCF College Republicans an appearance on the Sean Hannity show, one of Fox Network’s highest rated shows. She has also worked on the campaigns of Florida Governor Rick Scott, Rene Plasencia, and as a Field Director for Americans for Prosperity.


    These were two solid hires, which gave the campaign a significant amount of legitimacy and street cred in its early weeks. Now, our source has confirmed that nationally recognized pollster Doug Kaplan, who runs the non-partisan polling firm Gravis Marketing… will serve as the campaign’s pollster for the remainder of the campaign.


    Gravis’ polls are quoted weekly in national media for their accuracy, methodology and timeliness. Kaplan’s Winter Springs based operation has also accurately predicted the rise of outsider Presidential candidates Donald Trump, Ben Carson, Bernie Sanders, and Carly Fiorina – long before any other polling outfit in the nation.


    That same source is also telling us that, Doug Guetzloe – President of Advantage Consultants is the senior consultant to the campaign. Mr. Guetzloe has been actively supporting Paulson in the community and was retained at the onset of the campaign to jumpstart advertising, public relations, and direct mail.


    Guetzloe, is a renowned political operative and advisor.


    Mr. Paulson reportedly chose Guetzloe partly due to his experience in successfully cutting taxes, as well as being a veteran of numerous Orlando campaigns. Guetzloe and his Advantage Consultants have worked on hundreds of state, national, and local efforts over the past 40 years.


    Ironically, Guetzloe helped the Dyer campaign in their initial successful mayoral effort in 2003, where he then served as a member of Mayor Dyer’s Transition and Management Team. From that post, Guetzloe retained a deep understanding of the City and its financial operations.


    Initially not considered a serious challenge to the 13 year incumbent, John H. “Buddy” Dyer, Paulson has run a surprisingly strong grassroots effort in tandem with a robustly effective direct mail and advertising effort that has quickly propelled the 60 year-old successful millionaire businessman and veteran to that of a serious contender.


    Based on an anonymous source, it is believed that the campaign contributions reports due this week will reveal the depth of Paulson’s commitment to loan his campaign enough funding to be competitive with the Dyer fundraising juggernaut.


    It is estimated that Paulson will report an amount equal to or greater than that of the Mayor’s campaign fund, which has raised an estimated $300,000 in mostly special interest funding from those doing business with the city.


    The Paulson campaign continues to generate support from regular voters, with Republican absentee ballot requests being “utterly historic” – according to top political consultant Paul Pelletier, a veteran of dozens of campaigns including the President George H.W. Bush election effort. The Iowa-based consultant was impressed with the Paulson effort and concluded that “it most likely will make the difference between victory and defeat.”


    Paulson for Mayor communications director Elaine Sarlo told the East Orlando Post that the campaign received an endorsement and contribution from legendary Hall of Fame football coach Lou Holtz “late last week.”


    Holtz, who retired from ESPN recently.


    Holtz, who remains one of the most popular figures in the history of college football, is a longtime Orlando resident and retired analyst for ESPN. Coach Holtz is immensely well regarded locally and has waded into the political realm from time-to-time over the years.


    In that letter, Holtz stated, that he is in support of rolling back the 17.7% tax increase pushed through by John “Buddy” Dyer.


    “What I don’t understand is why you have to pay such a severe price to be a citizen of Orlando,” Holtz said in his endorsement


    “I’m honored to have his support and his contribution,” Paulson stated when reached by telephone Sunday night. “It’s great to see the groundswell of support we’re receiving from neighbors who have seen their communities slide in continual decline under the Dyer administration,” Paulson concluded.


    Paulson campaign manager Mike Shirley said that Paulson’s campaign has been extremely unique and effective in its outreach to Orlando residents. Citing a recent campaign hotline, launched with a “Better Call Paul” marketing campaign that plays off AMC’s hit show “Better Call Paul”, Shirley pointed to the fact that Mr. Paulson has given voters a direct line to his phone.


    “Better Call Paul” graphic released by the campaign on social media.


    “Having worked campaigns from here to Washington to Alaska, I can tell you I’ve never heard it done before. It’s the best way the candidate can stay in touch with voters. As Mayor he’ll keep the line open for all citizens and be only a phone call away,” stated Shirley.


    The direct number to Paulson is 407.710.6111. With time running out in this shotgun mayoral election, both campaigns are expected to push their supporters to the polls in the coming weeks – with Paulson gaining help from the statewide Florida Federation of Young Republicans, who will be deploying a team to Orlando in the final week of the campaign.



    Jacob Engels, is the Founder of East Orlando Post & Seminole County Post. He is a seasoned political operative who has led numerous statewide political groups and has worked on several high-profile local, statewide, and national races. Jacob has been interviewed on national television & radio programs, with his work having been featured in the Orlando Sentinel, New York Times, Washington Post, Miami Herald and other publications nationwide. He can be reached at