Crossposted at DK, TPM, MyDD, and Prairie State Blue
Last Monday July 21st Sarah Topy and her staff at the Scott Harper campaign were looking forward to a week of data processing, fundraising and preparing for a big push in August after the immensely successful event they organized called “13 for the 13th” on July 13th, the single biggest Dem canvass ever held in IL-13.
There was a lot of file updating yet to do and wouldn’t you know Monday was the day the state guys finally had the new voter file ready to download. The new VAN basically updated and transformed all our files to new software and it was an all day procedure installing it. The files were still offline Monday night when I showed up at campaign HQ to make some calls. Rich Caparrell the field director was in Maryland for a much deserved long weekend off. We had another canvass scheduled for Saturday but volunteer turnout was expected to be light in the middle of vacation season and especially so soon after the big effort on July 13th. It wasn’t downtime but it’s as close as they’ll get in the next few months on Harper’s campaign.
Well that was the plan anyway, but it wasn’t to be. Read on for how those best laid plans went out the window in an instant and what happened next.
So just when they figured they’d be able catch up on some data entry the DCCC picked that Monday morning to announce the Mobilize for Change, 100 Days to Victory Contest which gave all Dem House challengers across the country just five days to see who could organize the most volunteers to pitch in on Saturday. The DCCC runs these contests periodically but I’ve never seen one so early in the cycle before. Running one this soon was a smart idea, competition gets the juices flowing just like the primaries particularly when House campaigns need some excitement in the dog days of summer. The reward for the winner is an email shout out to all three million contributors on DCCC chair Van Hollen’s email list that will bring in a significant chunk of cash and priceless name recognition and respect that’s sorely lacking for a lot of our House challengers.
So with the field director a thousand miles away and the computer files out of action til Tuesday they got to work. They called everybody on their own phone contact lists and emailed any and everybody in their personal address books who they thought might be willing to canvass all afternoon or make phonecalls for as little as half an hour on Saturday.
By Tuesday morning the voter file was up and running again. By Wednesday morning Rich was back in the office and the place was rockin’.
Here’s what they accomplished by Saturday:
635 volunteers made phone calls.
Hundreds attended phone bank sites or phone bank house parties and hundreds more took advantage of our call from home program. We had phonebank parties set up as far away as Seattle where one of Scott’s old classmates organized a party, to Denver where members of his family had 20 people making calls to NE Pennsylvania where Rich’s family pulled together in Hazleton with their cell phones.
64 volunteers went door-to-door.
Canvassers carried literature about Scott Harper and local Democratic candidates. I picked up a couple of DFA activists at the Fairview train station in Downers Grove and gave them their walk packets and lit. One guy, Greg Hodgson left his house in Indiana at 7:30 am and didn’t expect to get home until 7:30 Saturday night. The other guy William Maggos grew up in the district in Woodridge and came out from the south side of Chicago. You just gotta love dedication like that. It’s the kind of selfless sacrifice that wins elections.
59 volunteers wrote letters and delivered yard signs from our Naperville headquarters.
In all 758 Volunteers Mobilized Throughout the District and Across the Country to help Scott Harper in Just One Day!
When you consider they put all that together starting from behind with four days on the computer to work with instead of five like everybody else and the field director out of town until Wednesday that’s just incredible.
Scott’s broad base of support, not just among activists but among Democratic candidates and party leaders was a real key to our success. With the vast majority of candidates for State Representative, State Senate, and local office and all of our elected officials helping out by making calls or hosting sites for us, this whole event was a truly coordinated effort.
I can’t emphasize this enough, if your House candidate isn’t running a coordinated campaign up and down the ballot with other Dems in the area please contact them and let them know how effective it is. We had too many co-sponsors for this event to list them all but here are just a few who brought many of their own volunteers out and organized canvass staging sites and phonebanks through out the district.
A Big Thank You Goes Out to All the Co-Sponsors especially:
Dianne McGuire for State Representative
Joe Heneghan for State Representative
Audrey Manley for State Senate
Will County Board Candidates Karen Gonzalez and Jackie Traynere
DuPage County Board candidates Karol Sole and Bob Brandt
State Senator A.J. Wilhelmi
State Senator Linda Holmes
State Senator Dan Kotowski
Will County Executive Larry Walsh
Judge Sarah Jones
Without these folks and many others and their organizations the Harper campaign wouldn’t have been able to mount this great team effort on such short notice. I don’t know as of yet who won the Mobilize for Change 100 Days to Victory Contest, I guess the DCCC is still tabulating the results. But I can tell you this is a tremendous success for the Scott Harper campaign and all our other candidates. With all of us pulling together like this we will win in November. And that’s just the beginning.
So thanks again to everybody who took time out on a beautiful summer Saturday to make this happen. Whether we win, lose or draw the DCCC contest we’ve taken another big step toward victory this fall. It’s change we can believe in because we are mobilizing that change ourselves.