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July 18, 2006

Be Kind to Your Door-to-Door Volunteers

Katie Nash

It is Saturday morning and you've just sat down with your cup of coffee to read the latest news. Your doorbell rings. Immediately you say "ugh," and if you don't say it, you are definitely thinking it.

When this happens at my house, for example, the dog is barking, I'm scramble to make sure I look presentable, running down to the door, half tripping down the two flights of stairs, and cursing myself for not buying a ranch style house.

I have also been on the other side of the door. Like most political volunteers, I have gone door-to-door to get my candidate elected and consider it part of my weekend activities. There are lots of questions from friends and family on why I do this. They range from "Aren't people rude to you?" to "Does it really make a difference?" The answers are usually yes, some are rude, and yes, most definitely, it does make a difference.

If you don't believe that this type of campaigning works, ask Frederick's Mayor Jeff Holtzinger. He and his volunteers went door-to-door because his opponent had him on name recognition and because such campaigning is cheap. After all, excluding the cost of literature you drop off, such campaigning is free.

In any underdog campaign like the 2005 Frederick City election, money is often the deal-breaker.

Arguably, you may not think that Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich, Jr., is running for re-election from a weak position. You may not even think of Michael Steele's U.S. Senate bid as an underdog race. If you've ever been to Annapolis during General Assembly sessions, however, and watched the Democrats override a veto, "because they can" (using the governor's phraseology), you must agree that the chips have been stacked against both Governor Ehrlich and Lieutenant Governor Steele.

On the national level, The Republican National Committee (RNC) has targeted the Ehrlich and Steele races as elections to win in 2006. Maryland represents one of five states with an open U.S. Senate seat and one of 14 states where a governor is up for re-election this year.

The RNC's seasonal publication, The Rising Tide, identifies door-to-door election efforts as the key to victory. Political Director Michael DuHaime says that "grassroots volunteers are the difference between victory and defeat, and their help will be critical in this year's GOP races." The RNC recognizes that such work in Ohio in 2004 was key, and will be again in 2006.

To answer the battle cry, the Maryland GOP is directing extensive door-to-door efforts in coordination with the RNC. Entitled Victory, it seeks to touch every registered Republican in Maryland multiple times.

Divided by county, David Burke is the regional director for Maryland Victory and is responsible for not only Frederick and points west, but Carroll, Baltimore, and Harford counties as well. Initially targeting Republican voters, this effort in Frederick County is underway, but struggling. More volunteers are needed.

The next step is to coordinate local elected officials and/or candidates who plan to go door-to-door this election season - capitalizing on the old saying, "kill two birds with one stone." Sen. Alex Mooney (R., Frederick/Washington) and his campaign workers have stepped up to the plate and fully embraced this concept.

>From a marketing standpoint, telephoning and door-to-door are by far the cheapest and most effective electioneering methods. Believe it or not, in Frederick County Republicans campaign door-to-door they actually get a relatively warm reception. It seems as though folks out here understand that in Maryland Republicans have an uphill battle.

So, if you can't spare a couple moments each week to make some calls and/or spend some time walking neighborhoods, please help out by answering a couple of issue related questions for those who can spare the time. It will benefit you in the long run.

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