Canvassing for Dems in Central Illinois
For BW readers who are not familiar with the folks in Central Illinois, and in particular, the IL-15 Congressional District, it is very similar to parts of Iowa. The major towns in the district, Bloomington-Normal, Champaign-Urbana, and Charleston are split between Dems and Repugs. But as most of it is rural, it is pretty conservative. Tim Johnson-R has won this seat 3 times and won handily in 2006 over our Dem challenger, David Gill (a very fine candidate who was for universal health care). In 2004, the presidential vote was very close, in which Kerry-Edwards edged out Bush-Cheney by less than 2% in my county, and in my particular precinct, Democratic candidate Carrie Melin won only by %1. That's how divided we are.
This morning was a beautiful day to get out and help out our fellow Democratic candidates as the sun had come out and the skies cleared, so I had to wear sunglasses. I worked between 9:30 and 11:30. The tent had two tables out, one for all of the locals who are running for primaries and voter registration forms, the other table was for all 9 Presidential candidates information on issues as well as buttons, bumper stickers, and a donation can. I brought a homemade sign to tape on the front that had John Edwards stickers and brought some lapel stickers, as well as a few CD's that I was able to take home from volunteering at John Edwards' booth at Yearly Kos.
In front of the "locals" table was a folded poster board in which water bottles (and slots on the screw caps) were under each candidate's name and picture. We had pennies for anyone who wanted to voice their support for any given candidate, and one could use pennies for all if undecided, which I thought was great. What I liked most though was visitors could also donate change or dollar bills to put inside the bottles for the candidate(s) they favored, and some did. It's a variation of a corn kernel poll in Iowa or a straw poll of sorts, except this will be done each week for the next couple of weeks as the booth continues to be there as long as the market is open.
One fellow who is the VP of the Dem County party had 4 or 5 petitions for state and local candidates to be on ballots. He had to be neutral in his stance since his job was to solicit signatures for the petitions, and he did ask for donations occasionally if the visitors wanted to take a bumper sticker or a button for a presidential candidate, in order to have materials pay for themselves. We got more donations than I expected, considering a few weeks ago, hardly anyone was picking up materials when I visited the booth briefly. And that was great because he explained how much it cost to keep the booth open during the year, and we were doing better than break-even.
Not planned at all, three volunteers happened to be Edwards supporters. One of them gave $20 to his campaign last week, knowing it was towards the end of the third quarter, and that's all she had to give, and I said, he appreciates anything we can do for him. Another fellow came by to collect signatures for petition for 4 folks to be DNC delegates for Edwards. He was successful in obtaining the signatures, in which his name was among them. He also mentioned he had seen Edwards recently at a private function in St. Louis last week. I asked why he liked Edwards and he said it was it was Edwards' advocacy for the working poor and poverty. What a surprise to me, as most the corporate media and the mainstream bloggers keep saying poverty is not an issue voters consider. Somehow the conversation turned to Rudy Guiliani and his fundraising and I said something about his going overseas to do it. He informed me that Michelle Obama had done the same in London recently. My jaw dropped.
I also commented to our group that Edwards was the only one with a Rural Recovery agenda, and that he understood our needs best since he was originally from a rural area. The group concurred.
One fellow, who said he voted Bush last time and would vote for a Dem this time, dropped by the booth to get more information on the candidates, and asked us about their positions, especially Edwards. Luckily, because of the blog sphere, I had no trouble answering any questions. He said he liked Edwards the most, but was looking at Dodd and Biden as well and would contact them for additional information.
Another woman dropped by to say that she liked Edwards because he was the most progressive who was electable (otherwise, she liked Kucinich too, but didn't think he could get elected). I asked her what else appealed his candidacy to her. She said he is honest. While she wished he would support gay marriage, he was honest in saying he wasn't ready to go there yet, but he was for civil unions and equal benefits for all same-sex couples. She wanted a woman president, but Clinton was not electable to her, and the election is more about getting our country back on track.
In fairness to the other front runners, one woman said she wanted a woman president no matter what, so she supported Clinton She also said Elizabeth Edwards should shut her mouth to the media. I responded that I was sorry to hear she didn't support Elizabeth speaking her mind, but I did. However, her mind was made up.
Oh, so I bet you are wondering who was faring the best in the "Penny drop" poll. Barack Obama led, but only so slightly, followed by Edwards, then Kucinich, then Richardson. Clinton was 5th, and you can guess the others. But FWIW, quite a few dropped pennies for more than one candidate. There were many undecideds, just as the race is tight in Iowa at the moment. That's cool, I thought. We have a strong slate of candidates, the best ever in my life time.