Campaigning for Congress

by Ann Nichols
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alexandercongress.jpgA friend who is making thousands of Get Out the Vote calls recently advised me that those of us working on campaigns should be eating plenty of oranges to ward off scurvy. At one time I would have laughed and made a joke about impressed seamen. Instead, I went out and bought a big bag of oranges between writing a press release and blogging about wind turbines.

Since July, I’ve been the Press Secretary for Bob Alexander, a Democrat running for Congress in Michigan’s 8th Congressional District. For three of those months, my job has been all about getting someone to pay attention to the fact that Bob exists. He’s trying to unseat a four-term incumbent, and “the Party line” (literally) was that Bob was a good guy, doing a dirty job that someone had to do.

bobalexander.jpgThis month, the tide has turned. Bob has morphed from sacrificial lamb to Feared Challenger. Two polls, one conducted by a crusty local politico with a history of phenomenally accurate predictions, give Bob a 50% chance of winning. Russ Feingold selected Bob as a “Progressive Patriot,” and one of the largest papers in the District endorsed him resoundingly. We can now pay our bills, we have a TV ad, albeit a teeny, tiny one that’s almost all made of still photos, but it’s a "buy."

Best of all, the incumbent is on the defensive – the Michigan GOP has sent out a bizarre series of mailers claiming that Bob wants to give free health care to over 900 million “illegals” and (even more amusing) to “the Super Rich.” A photo of Bill Gates buttresses the claim that Bob wants the government to foot the bill for the Botox and Xanax of the Manolo-shod elite.

So I am eating oranges. Tons of them. I am learning FEC rules, answering questions from undecided voters (“Was the pig at the De Witt Pig Roast organic? Was it rescued?”), and writing scraps of responses on slips of papers which then become lost among the clippings. I am talking to the press, and learning to be simultaneously charming and guarded. My family is eating things that come out of cans, and I regularly pass out from 5:00-7:00 and awaken to answer calls and write furiously until the wee hours of the morning.

I have bronchitis and I bark like a dog. My friends believe that my mind has been appropriated by GOTV, button-wearing aliens. I have never been more exhausted. I have never loved a job more.

 


Ann Graham Nichols cooks and writes the Forest Street Kitchen blog in East Lansing, Michigan where she lives in a 1912 house with her husband, her son and an improbable number of animals. 

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