September 11, 2004

volunteering for Richard Morrison

Today was my second day working as a volunteer for the Morrison campaign. For those of you who don't know, Richard Morrison is the Democrat running for Congress against Tom Delay. Although District 22 is fairly Republican leaning, I believe that Morrison has a decent shot at defeating Delay, especially after watching the campaign at work. Apparently, Morrison is actually running several points ahead of Kerry/Edwards in the district, so it's a possibility. Yesterday I wandered down to the campaign office in Clear Lake and they put me to work immediately. I spent the afternoon working my way down lists of registered voters in the precinct and finding out whether they supported Morrison or Delay, or were undecided. If they were Morrison supporters, we were to ask if they wanted a yard sign, if they were undecided, we were to ask if they would like us to send them more information. Most of the time I ended up getting an answering machine or voice mail, but the few times that I did get to speak to an actual human I found a pretty reasonable split between Democrats and Republicans. I think Morrison's biggest problem right now is his lack of name recognition. Most people didn't know who he was, but a lot of people seemed interested in the fact that someone was actually running against Tom Delay.
Today we got about 50 (50!) volunteers to come out and block walk a few precincts in the district. We went out in pairs, armed with a registered voter list, Morrison for 22 T-shirts, some door hangers with some information and the Morrison website address printed on them, and an assigned area to walk. It was very similar to the phone banking - we were to identify Morrison supporters and ask if they wanted yard signs, hand out information to undecided voters, and identify the Delay supporters. I was assigned to precinct 1120 in Fort Bend county, which is heavily Republican, although it is in fact Richard Morrison's neighborhood. In fact, in the 2000 election, Gore only won 18.2% of the vote in the district. However, it is the belief of the Morrison campaign that many Republicans can be convinced to cross over to vote Delay out even if they don't vote for Kerry/Edwards. My preliminary experience in the precinct was actually much better than 18.2%. Several people had no idea that a candidate was running against Tom Delay, but once they heard that someone was running against Tom Delay, were all for him. My favorite experience was when me and my partner walked up to a white male, probably mid- to late-thirties, power-washing the engine block of his car. We explained who we were and he immediately replied, "You know you're in a primarily Republican neighborhood, right?" We answered that we did, but then we told him that we were supporting a candidate running against Tom Delay and he said, "_Ohh._ Your guy is running against Tom Delay, huh? Well then, I'll definitely consider voting for him." We chatted a bit more but didn't try to push him hard, simply opting for leaving him with the web address so he could find out more about Morrison. The other highlight of the day was that while we were walking through the neighborhood, Richard Morrison himself drove up to us on his way home and chatted with us for a while. I got a chance to talk to him both then and later in the campaign office, and he came across as a very personable guy. I asked him how his first meeting with Tom Delay went - they met that morning at a parade, or something like that, and Richard was very confident and good natured about it. I think that once people find out who he is, things are going to change very rapidly in the district. Delay is running scared - in the past 15 years, he's never opened a campaign office, but this year he's opened _two_. The lowlight of the tiny bit of campaign politics that I've seen was when I was phone banking in the campaign office yesterday. While I was making my calls in the back, some guy walked in wanting to obtain a large number of yard signs for the "Baytown Democrats." There is no such organization, but there is a "Bay Area New Democrats" so we kind of let that slide. However, the campaign manager had already sent the signs over to the BAND headquarters. The guy claimed to be the son of one of the ladies who worked in the campaign office (she wasn't in at the time) and chatted with some of the people up front for a bit and then left - sans signs. Later, Nancy came in and Huma said "hey, your son came in asking for yard signs." Nancy doesn't have a son. You do the math.

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