Campaign report: Washington’s 8th district
In order to lay the groundwork for serious changes in our foreign policy in 2009, Peace Action West is supporting pro-peace candidates throughout the western states. We have sent four of our best organizers to competitive races to make sure the progressive movement, and the peace vote in particular, turns out on Tuesday and has a significant impact this election year. The following report is from Field Manager J Iness, who is working to elect Darcy Burner in the 8th congressional district of Washington:
Congressional candidate Darcy Burner and Peace Action West organizer J Iness
I arrived in Washington on October 12th and was sent to work immediately the next day. On campaigns, the average workday is twelve to fourteen hours, and most campaign staff work seven days a week; interns in particular are told to "expect long hours." The first day I was there I had the opportunity of meeting Darcy Burner, the congressional candidate I am working for. In the three weeks since I met her I have seen her five or six times and each time I am reminded of how deserving she is of the position she is campaigning for. Not only is she plainly intelligent and very composed, she exudes the confidence of someone who knows that they are running a smooth, honest campaign with the utmost integrity. The volunteers have been phone banking for weeks now undoing the damage done by smear campaigning from the opposing side, and she is directly involved in convincing people of the legitimacy of her Harvard credentials, her plans to protect the middle class and work to end the war in Iraq. She is extremely dedicated and hardworking, often working more hours than any paid staff or volunteer.
The second day I was here, we all went to breakfast with Senator Russ Feingold from Wisconsin at the Palace Restaurant in Seattle. Senator Feingold was the only senator to vote in opposition of the Patriot Act, and he remains one of the most outspoken senators against the war (and received 100% on our scorecard). It was one of the greater honors of my life to shake the hand and look in the eye of a man who stood up for our freedoms, even though it meant he stood alone. He gave a very moving speech urging the attendees to support (both in votes and in donations) Darcy Burner, and spoke about his own initial run for elected office, and the hard work and multiple recounts that were involved. His message to all of us was "don't give up!" At breakfast we were also given the good news that Darcy was the first democratic candidate for Congress in the 8th congressional district that ever lead in polls more than the margin of error! She was up five percent and in the recent weeks has increased her lead to seven. Once we headed back to work, we were instructed to combine the whole Democratic ticket in Washington and work to get out the vote for Barack Obama and Darcy.
I was relocated to a smaller office in a remote area of the 8th congressional district due to the severe need for more resources in the more rural neighborhoods. It turns out that Auburn, Washington, where I am now working, is the hometown of Governor Gregoire and she did a campaign stop nearby which we were all encouraged to attend. Governor Gregoire spoke strongly about her plans for the future of Washington state and her hopes for an Obama administration. One week later I was able to meet Washington Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) when she came by our office. She read us a personal message from Hillary Clinton and spoke about the urgent need for us to continue the important work we were doing for the entire Democratic Party in Washington. Luckily, I was able to bend her ear for several minutes and fill her in on the important work Peace Action West is doing to change US foreign policy. She seemed genuinely interested in our issues and expressed her sincerest thanks for our work to get Darcy Burner elected.
By the end of the day I still had yet one more surprise waiting for me when I attended a conference call with David Plouffe and Barack Obama. I wasn't able to speak with him directly (due to the 20,000 other attendees) but it certainly left a bigger impression on me hearing his voice through the phone over just seeing a recording of him on the television.
The election is now two days away, and all the candidates whom I have been working for are pulling steadily ahead. I have been waiting for this day for four years, and at the time I had no idea how much it was going to consume my future. I am proud to know I have had an active part in working to elect pro-peace candidates and that with their inaugurations we will begin making positive, concrete steps toward ending the war in Iraq and setting America back on its right track.
If you're in the Bay Area, join us to watch the returns come in and celebrate at the Albatross in Berkeley.