Within a few minutes of getting started, one of the candidates I was supporting came by to drop off some fresh literature-- a flyer showing pre- and post pictures of big road signs that had been destroyed, presumably by his competitor-- the PA state director for Rick Santorum. I'd made a sign that declared:
Jeff Haberkern, was State Director for Rick Santorum.
I asked the candidate, Henry, if I could post it. He agreed, so I gave him the other copies I'd printed out to cover all the polls in the township.
Henry started walking down to the polling place around the corner and downstairs. All of a sudden, another former Santorum local operative-- Skip-- went after Henry and started cursing him out, saying, "Henry, you're a piece of sh*t."
I knew this guy-- a real creep. I said to Henry, "Ignore him Henry. He's scum."
They kept going at it. I told Henry, again, to ignore him. Finally Henry just left.
I live in a township where Republicans outnumber Dems about 50% to 30% or even less.
The Republicans were cocky. But I also know that a lot of people are RINOs-- republicans in name only-- because they can't get jobs or business. Bottom line, at last count, Henry won!! It was very close-- by 35 votes out of 4500.
I put in two hours in the morning in my township, then three hours in a neighboring township working a poll for a friend who was running for district judge-- an attorney running against a non-attorney. She lost. Partisanship won over competence. The same thing happened in a number of line offices where there were far superior candidates who lost because of their party. It's a metaphor for what's happening nationally. It's a tragedy.
After the polls closed, I went to the county Dem office. Once the numbers started coming in, things started to get exciting. People starting bringing in results. One candidate won. THere was cheering and celebration as results were walked or phoned in from all over the county.
My friend running for the judge position lost. Another friend running for coroner, an MD with a Ph.D.in Pathology, lost to a podiatrist. This is what is happening to America. Partisanship is trumping quality. It is tragic.
All the line candidates lost. The lead that dems had in the 2006 election, which landslided Ed Rendell into a second term as governor and Bob Casey destroying Rick Santorum did not translate into victories this time around. Not a good sign if you are looking for harbingers for 2008.
But in my township, a dem squeaked by to beat the Republican, even with a huge R advantage. In the county seat, Doylestown, Dems made history, winning a majority on the borough council for the firs time in decades.
I went from the Dem headquarters to the home of the dem chair for my township. There, Glynnis was holding a party. It was close, but we were able to celebrate Henry's victory.
This is grassroots politics, being in the room when a candidate discovers that he's won-- and his face lights with joy, or with a candidate who loses, finally writing down the last deadly vote count that seals the defeat. And then there are the phone calls that suggest a win, that are off, raising false hopes.
It was an incredible night, working with amazingly committed, hard working people who care alot. If you haven't done this part of the politial process yet, you should give it a try.