Steve Southerland’s campaign headquarters is more unique than most. When the Panama City businessman decided to run for Congress in Florida’s 2nd district, he moved into his grandparents’ house.
“As we started this campaign a year ago, we couldn’t think of a better place to go back,” Southerland tells supporters. “You’re standing on ground that I grew up on.”
When his family moved to the area, the busy street was only a clay road. Southerland smiles as he reminisces about walking next door to visit the grandparents, fishing in a pond nearby, and seeing his first Florida panther in the back yard.
The house was built with bedrooms for the grandchildren, and as a kid, Southerland stayed over on Friday nights after Little League. Supporters now make phone calls to district voters from the room in which he and his brother Tim slept.
After his grandfather passed away in 2005, the house was shuttered, so the campaign needed to clean up the yard and service the pipes and air conditioning before the 12 staff members who have desks and offices could move in.
“You’ve helped us breathe life back into this house,” Southerland says.
Financially, it makes sense, because the campaign doesn’t have to spend donor dollars on rent. But it’s more than that — there’s a sense of legacy, too.
“It feels right knowing that my grandparents are involved in this campaign,” Southerland says. “And it helps keep me grounded and remember the values that my parents and my grandparents instilled in us.”