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Confessions of a Campaign Volunteer Worker-Bee, Part 2

November 5th, 2012 (11:58 pm)

Once I finished with the Obama/Kaine campaigns in today's marathon of voter canvassing, I switched gears. And candidates. For Karen Graf's School Board campaign, my job was less structured. I was given a list of names and addresses on my own street, with a brochure that had been personalized with a sticker giving my name and the names of two other Alexandria Avenue residents who support Karen for School Board. I had a week or so to get to every house on the list; I finished the last block today. It was a simple task, but I hope effective. I especially enjoyed canvassing for Karen Graf a few days ago, when I walked the block or two around my own home and knew most of the people who answered the doors.

A School Board campaign voter list like this is understandably much simpler than others I've worked with. But apparently even this is a lot more sophisticated than School Board races in most parts of the country, where candidates paint their own signs(!) and are astonished at what our local school board candidates spend on even the most basic of elections here. Welcome to life in the Land of Politicos.

I capped off tonight with a literature drop for a fourth candidate's campaign. This was for Justin Wilson, who is running for City Council. First, Justin fed us pizza. I really like that in a candidate. (I'm wondering now if I've been approaching this all wrong. Maybe I should just agree to work for any candidate willing to give me pizza. Hmmmmm.....)

Bob's pic of Rob & LisaI should probably add here that I already supported Justin, before the pizza. He has been on City Council before and has a great record, especially regarding his support for public transportation and the schools. I guess I should mention that both Jason and Karen are Mount Vernon Community School parents, like me. In September, we voted MVCS parent Rob Krupicka into the Virginia General Assembly as our new state delegate (despite the fact that he looks like Neil Patrick Harris and does a dead-on Dr. Horrible impersonation, as in this photo. Or maybe because of it). Karen and Justin are the next wave in our insidious plan to have MVCS parents rule the world. But I digress.

Justin Wilson's "lit drop" tonight for his Alexandria City Council campaign was different from my other canvassing experiences today. In a lit drop, you don't actually knock on the door and attempt to talk to someone. You just leave a leaflet. Often the hard part is figuring out where to leave it. It's best when the homeowner has thoughtfully provided the kind of door handle you can slip a leaflet through. But in the this neighborhood, most houses have old-fashioned doorknobs, sometimes with a storm door that has a handle that also refuses to accommodate a piece of paper. Almost always, the resourceful volunteer can rig up some way of getting the leaflet onto the door. Often this is made harder by the presence of a large doberman or pit bull hurling itself against the inside of the door, barking about how much it wants to eat you.

I loved Justin's "turf sheet." No names, no addresses, no notes about who leans Democratic or plans to vote in the a.m. Tonight I hit the streets armed with a sheet of paper on which the coordinator had scrawled the names of some streets I should try. That's all. But it was all I needed.

Now, Justin is an experienced and sophisticated campaigner, and I know his volunteers must have had the usual well-organized lists of addresses to canvass earlier in the cycle. But let's face it. It's the night before Election Day. It was dark and Monday Night Football was on. Who would want to answer the door to talk to us? At this point in the campaign, it wouldn't do much good to ask questions and collect data, without a sophisticated national political machine to back it up. Obama's army of staff and volunteers will be up all night, using the information we collected with those annoying questions, to determine which voters need just a little nudge to get them to go the polls Tuesday to vote Democratic.

But this is a City Council campaign. Justin's goal tonight was just to remind people that he's running and to make sure they know what he stands for, especially since so many voters are still undecided about the local races.