Starla Brown, a staunch, conservative Republican, has never been far from the political arena.
She took her first dip in the electoral pool at age 19, when she managed the campaign of her then-boss, an attorney who was running for a judgeship. The results were so close, they required a runoff. Brown’s boss lost, but for her, the seed of political activism had been planted.
Today, as president and CEO of Palm Beach Gardens-based Fundamental Group, a political and business consulting service, she is working on the campaigns of congressional candidate Ozzie deFaria, Geoff Sommers’ state Senate bid and Cindy Tindell’s run for Republican state committeewoman in Palm Beach County.
As a volunteer, Brown also co-chairs George LeMieux’s run for U.S. Senate and has been the southeast Florida regional manager of the Rick Santorum for President campaign.
Brown, though, has never run for political office herself, at least not yet. And while she said she’s not particularly interested in walking the campaign trail as the candidate right now, she won’t give the thought an absolute “no.” More like “never say never.”
The consultant and businesswoman said she got out of politics for a while because she felt “burned out.” After managing the attorney’s campaign, she went on to direct the efforts of several other office seekers “and then got out of it. I don’t like to do anything without jumping totally into it.”
That’s when the Mississippi native, who earned a communications degree from Mississippi State University, dove into a career in the construction trade, becoming director of customer service for Kenco Communities/Kenco Homecare in Boca Raton.
Brown held various roles during her 18 years at the firm — considered “one of the finest and most sought-after builder/developers in Florida today,” she said — from conflict resolution to marketing and consulting, and all aspects of customer service. While she didn’t know if she would re-enter the political world, she learned skills that would apply if and when she stepped back into the spotlight.
Brown said she enjoyed the conflict resolution aspect of the job and learned negotiating skills she found handy when she did return to politics.
A self-described “Southern” girl, Brown said she can be tough – like taking to a picket line or protest march when the cause is right – or be “a lady,” taking a cue from her mom.
“My mother was very much a lady,” she said. “She had a motorcycle, and she could fire a gun, but she could be very feminine.” That’s where Brown said she got her penchant for wearing pearls.
Her family emigrated from Britain, bringing with them a work ethic, no large stash of money and no qualms about getting their hands dirty.
“These were the people who built America,” Brown said. “I was blessed to go to college. Now, I feel like I should give back.”
In fact, Brown takes to heart the biblical verse from Luke that urges those given abilities by God to share them. She works with nonprofits and military causes. Her father, she said, served in the Navy during the Korean War, so she puts lots of stock in efforts that benefit America’s veterans. A “Support Veterans” bracelet is one of three she wears. Another says “One Nation under God,” and the third expresses her support for U.S. Rep. Allen West.
“I volunteered with the Young Republicans and Urban Youth Impact,” Brown said. “We are not always out doing political things, but we are able to walk the walk and talk the talk where veterans are concerned.”
Once, when asked to bring dessert to a charity event, “I called on my Republican friends – and we filled up three tables with sweets,” she remembered.
In 2008, Brown began her re-entry into party politics.
“I began to realize that Obama was a legitimate force,” she said. “I talked to people, and the Republicans weren’t buying his message of hope and change. I began to get anxious. I felt I had to do more.”
She worked for West in 2010 – the year he unseated then-incumbent Ron Klein.
“Allen is a great hero to me,” she said. “We needed him in Congress.”
When espousing the Republican agenda, Brown said she does so with a velvet glove, not a hammer. She can be tough, she said, but also gentle. She’s also straight-forward about her desire to oust President Obama.
“I’m adamant that he should leave,” she said. “I will work for that until my knees give out. I want to fight hard.”
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