Meet Mitchell Norton — one of the “30 under 30″ rising stars in Florida politics

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Mitchell Norton, 30, entered politics “because after four years as a failed musician and a mediocre cell phone salesman, I went back to school and decided to study my passion.” Mitchell’s parents were always politically engaged and had impressed upon him the value of staying active.

His first big break came from Rep. Joe Saunders. Mitchell was just out of grad school and looking for work when Saunders took a chance on him and had Norton manage his campaign.

Since then, Mitchell has worked for Mike Byerly for Alachua County Commission (2008), Barack Obama for President (2008), Equality is Gainesville’s Business (2009), Craig Lowe for Gainesville Mayor (2010), Perry McGriff for State Senate (2010), Susan Bottcher for Gainesville City Commission (2011), Lauren Poe for Gainesville City Commission (2012), Joe Saunders for State House (2012), Kevin Cate Communications (2013), Equality Florida/Human Rights Campaign (Current) and WWD Strategies, which he co-founded.

Mitchell admires the countless interns and volunteers of the political fray who have “sacrificed their time and treasure for no pay in an effort to make Florida a better place”; and understands that good campaign managers manage their own time well enough to get a full night’s sleep (“until GOTV, of course”).

Latest tweet from @mitchellnorton: “Just watched Gangster Squad. I can’t begin to describe how awful it is. It wants so badly to be The Untouchables, and fails horribly.”

Here is Mitchell in his own words:

I am 30 years-young.

I live in Jacksonville, but Gainesville will always be my home. I grew up on the space coast.  I went to school at The University of Florida.  I hope to visit Camden Yards soon enough.

I entered politics because after four years as a failed musician and a mediocre cell phone salesman, I went back to school and decided to study my passion.  My mother and father were always politically engaged, and drilled into my head the importance of staying active.

One principle I always put above politics is loyalty.  Loyalty can mean politics sometimes, but in this case, I mean loyalty to the people I love and the people who love and support me.

Person or people who gave me my first shot: I was given great opportunities by some great leaders in Gainesville, namely Lauren Poe and Susan Bottcher, but I have to say, Representative Joe Saunders gave me my first big break.  I was fresh out of grad school, having trouble finding work, and despite having plenty of options to manage his first campaign, Joe took a chance on me.  I will always be grateful for that opportunity.

I’ve already worked for/on: Mike Byerly for Alachua County Commission (2008), Barack Obama for President (2008), Equality is Gainesville’s Business (2009), Craig Lowe for Gainesville Mayor (2010), Perry McGriff for State Senate (2010), Susan Bottcher for Gainesville City Commission (2011), Lauren Poe for Gainesville City Commission (2012), Joe Saunders for State House (2012), Kevin Cate Communications (2013), Equality Florida/Human Rights Campaign (Current) and WWD Strategies (Current).

When I begin a project or first work on a campaign, I look for the reason my candidate is running.  We can debate the importance of field and finance and communications all day, but in the end, if the candidate doesn’t really know why he or she is running, the campaign doesn’t have a prayer.

I’ve been blessed to have these people as my mentors:  My grandfather, Jack Owens.  My mother, Dorothy Jean Norton. My father, Terry Norton.  And my surrogate mother, Susan Bottcher.

The people I most admire in politics are the countless interns and volunteers who have sacrificed their time and treasure for no pay in an effort to make Florida a better place.  Without them, my campaigns would never get off the ground.

One lesson I’ve already learned is to always find time to sleep and don’t fall into old, bad habits.  Too many people think real campaign managers are slept-deprived nicotine addicts, but I’m here to tell you, good managers manage their time well enough to get a full night’s sleep, until GOTV of course.  And I’ve been smoke-free for four years despite some very stressful campaigns.

If I wasn’t working in politics, I’d be working in a mall.  Politics is all I really know.  I’d like to take a crack at sports PR one day.  I’d love to get paid to watch the Orioles every day.

In ten years, you’ll read about me advocating for the issues I care about, and continuing to help Democrats get elected.

You can connect with me via Facebook www.Facebook.com/mitnorton and via Twitter @mitchellnorton

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.