First Week on the Campaign

First Week on the Campaign

Having told the State Organizer I was ready to volunteer full-time by January 4, I anticipated that I would see some directions when I logged in that morning. Rebecca and I had power-watched episodes of West Wing, so I figured I was thoroughly primed. I asked Rebecca if she was going to prepare my lunch for my first day – thankfully, she recognizes my attempts to be amusing.

All Monday I waited. And Tuesday. Nothing. Tuesday evening I told Rebecca if I had not heard anything from the campaign by Friday, I was heading to Iowa. Finally, Wednesday at 5:00 p.m., my role and minimal instructions arrived. My title is Lead for Upper Middle Tennessee which encompasses 20 counties (including my county but excluding Nashville’s Davidson County). Responsibilities included finding volunteers in each county that will fill the following four positions from now until the March 1st primary: Volunteer Captain, Community Outreach Lead (outreach to civic clubs, faith communities, young voters, etc.), Phone Bank Captain, and House Parties Lead. She also gave me access to the Voter Activation Network (VAN) to start making phone calls immediately.

No instructions were included on how to do my tasks, because she was focusing on getting Leads established in the four heavily-populated State metropolitan counties. So, I started from scratch and started googling. I found a map of my counties and tapped the State Democratic Party’s (yes, we do have one in this red state) website for the County Parties’ websites, Facebook pages, and contacts. My counties are mostly rural, so the Counties websites’ content varied: from no websites, to just Facebook sites with no activity since 2012, to full websites and active Facebook pages. My challenges were readily apparent: I have only received responses from eleven out the twenty counties.

Some Counties are very active, with monthly meetings. I have already attended four of those as a guest speaker, where I introduced myself, described my role, and asked for volunteers. Overall, they have been enjoyable experiences. The committees are welcoming, interested, eager to share information, and ready to volunteer. Most volunteer to make phone calls through the VAN, but some want to host house parties where they can invite their social network to hopefully gain more volunteers. Some committee members provided names and contact information for potential large donors and other Hillary backers. Also, a radio station talk show host that advocates for women has invited me to speak.

Eventually, the state Lead Organizer and I met. After I described my week’s activities, she stated I was right on track, and she was going to turn me loose in my Region so she could focus on the other seven regions. She identified some of the key counties for me and told me that the phone banks and contacting volunteers were to be prioritized. She plans to issue a gas card for me to use, and told me to use Google Voice to avoid using long-distance because cell phone coverage can be spotty in rural counties like mine.

When viewed on a large scale, Tennessee is considered to be part of the Southern firewall for Hillary. With Iowa and New Hampshire dead even or leaning Bernie, the primary season is getting curiouser and curiouser. During a telecon yesterday, the National State Organizer explained to all Leads that the closeness of the race was to be expected. So since Tennessee went Hillary in 2008 – 53% to Obama’s 42% – with 40 of the State’s 78 delegates going to Hillary, our goal is to increase that 53% to win as many delegates as possible. This appears to be the first pivotal moment of a crazy campaign. As for me, so far so good. Thanks for reading.  Comments?