"We're putting the band back together again." I heard this not once, but twice, yesterday -- about two different groups of people! -- as we were picking up packets and heading out the doors to get out the vote for Robin Kelly.
The number of former Obama field organizers (and community organizers, if you want to know) in this campaign is noteworthy. I'd bet there hadn't been this many FOs in one room single their last collective staff meeting.
But there were plenty of people who had been supporting Barack Obama and Robin Kelly since before anyone ever throught we'd elect a president from these parts. And the old-timers think of themselves as "Team Robin" from way back.
SIEU sent people down to the first campaign office, and they got started yesterday at nine. These were experienced canvassers -- at least one who had done it full-time (imagine that?) for awhile in Virginia last year.
A newly formed group, The People's Lobby, showed up in force. Lots of young people, but apparently mostly community organizers for non-profits, and some old hands who were ready to tell you who they were! Endorsing Robin w as apparently their first big collective effort and they made a good showing.
And we had people from throughout the Chicagoland region who had been involved in the 2012 effort come out to work for Robin. Lots of people who hadn't seen each other in enough of a span of a time that it felt like old home week!
A team of us headed down to Kankakee to knock out doors. I talked to a number of people, but the first contact was the most memorable.
This was an area that we hadn't had a lot of canvassers down to, in large part because Toi Hutchinson had strong support in the area. i was projecting that 80% of the vote in this special election was going to come out of the South Suburbs of Cook County, so Kankakee wasn't the highest priority, but it might present a new opportunity.
"Do you know who Robin Kelly is?" i asked.
"I've heard of her," the person on my list told me, "but I didn't see her at the Hopkins Park event (debate)." I tried to explain her absence away as best I could without knowing the details. I didn't know that the candidate and Mike Jordan had gotten lost trying to find the event, which I would have been glad to have told him.
So I told him a little bit about the Robin Kelly I know, and how she works well with the local constituencies and how she's focused on bringing jobs to the area when she was State Rep. and Chief of Staff to the state Treasurer.
"Well, everybody promises that they will bring jobs, but they don't necessarily do it," he replied.
I told him that he was right, but that I had had direct experience with a female-owned small business that got their start-up capital from the fund that Robin pushed when she was the COS to the Treasurer. It brightened up an area that had been neglected and now these ladies were helping other businesses like their's around the country use their system.
He didn't promise me he'd vote for Robin, but the gentleman who was sitting down on the porch with him when i arrived came up to the door and asked me for Robin's flyer.
"Thanks," he said. "If you have any trouble in the neighborhood, you come back here. We'll straighten it out."
"I won't have any trouble," i assured them. But there were big smiles from these two African-American males who appreciated the fact that i had taken the time to knock on their doors.
The thing about Kankakee -- and one of the reasons we went down there -- is that they (and Bradley) have contested Democratic primaries for mayor and aldermen. So these people will be turning out to vote on Tuesday and many of them didn't know who they were going to vote for now that Toi was out of the race.
My contacts were pretty divided. Less than half said they were going to vote for Robin. One lady told me that she hadn't gotten the call from her daughter to vote for Robin, and that's what she was going to do! Two other voters i talked to had received calls from the campaign that very day and were committed to voting for Robin.
Probably about half of the people i talked to were still undecided. Only one person told me that they were going to vote for someone else.
Saturday was a good day for us! We had a lot of people out knocking on doors out of almost a dozen staging locations. About as many were making phone calls. Robin stopped by a number of those locations and talked to the volunteers, had pictures taken and just generally took in the excitement around this campaign.
The one thing we did notice is that the campaign does not yet have a supply of hand- or foot-warmers for those of us out in the cold. You can still help. Markos said it best:
So this is it, guys, let's close strong by chipping in a few more bucks. If you've been sitting in the sidelines, here's your chance to bring this one home, electing the next great congresswoman while delivering a clear message to the NRA—we're coming after you. IL-02 is the appetizer.Thanks! Your help is very appreciated by Robin Kelly and her team...