Rural GA Matters

I’m back on the road again, this time knocking on doors in my hometown. In a time of COVID, this may seem unwise. But there’s so much at stake here and with razor-thin margins in the Georgia Senate race , there’s so many people to reach.

Winning both senate seats means the Democrats take control of the Senate, so it’s important that both Rev Warnock and Jon Ossoff win. If the November election results is any indication, this will be a tight race and the difference may come down to the rural counties in South Georgia that are solidly red.

Started on Sat, Jan 2nd knocking on doors on the northside of Darien, a borough of 2,000. I must have knocked on 100 of these doors with the rain pouring steadily. The biggest challenge was keeping my phone dry as well as the the campaign flyers which I gave to residents or stuck on the doors if they didn’t answer. With the hard drizzle and a stranger in a face mask knocking with flyers on a Saturday afternoon, I can see why people were alarmed.

For a while I felt I was working for door dash. The minivan app listed the addresses and the names of each person I was assigned to reach. It even showed the last time they were reached and if there were any errors, I was there to correct them.

About 1 in 10 had moved out or perhaps the address no longer exist. Houses were been renovated or mobile homes have relocated.

If the person no longer lives there, I could still reach the current residents and inquire whether they plan to vote on Jan 5th and which way they were leaning. And since I was in a strong Republican county, many had voted for Trump and were firmly entrenched in the party line.

One of the addresses I was assigned to visit, not far from where my mother lives was a homeowner who was actually outside doing some work.

“Is Jimmy here?” I yelled glad that I wouldn’t need to knock on this door.

“Sorry he’s not here,” he quickly responded.

“Hi, I’m with the Democratic Party of Georgia, and I’m working to get Rev Warnock and Jon Ossoff elected on Tuesday,” I said as I handed him the flyer.

“Great, I’ll give this to Jimmy when he returns,” the man responded with a smirk.

He seemed like an affable fellow, and I wasn’t going to let him go this easily. Come to find out, this man was Jimmy and we had an interesting discussion for over 20 minutes about politics and the election. Though he had already decided to vote Republican, I still gained a lot from listening to his views and was glad to do some cordial discussion.

Another resident I visited later in the afternoon turned out to be a lady who played the organ at the church I attended when I was in high school. She was thrilled to see me – it had been over thirty years, and she looked great.

On the second day, I continued eastside of Darien into a nicer white neighborhood. Just like on day 1, the majority of those I visited were staunch Republicans, But I was able to visit a dozen African American families who live along Black Road. Half said they already voted, the other half said that they would vote on the 5th.

On the third day, I actually had to drive far into the heart of Eulonia and visit the African American communities of Townsend and Shellman’s Bluff, west of 99 and north of 17. It was what my field organizer described been “in the middle of nowhere.” This perhaps was my most fruitful day since many of these Black voters were solidly Democrats and would vote on January 5th. I was there to remind them and ask if they had a way to get to the polls. Some roads were impassable, and without driving a 4×4, I had to find other ways to get there. And like before there were many addresses that no longer existed or were simply abandoned.

I didn’t canvass on election day. Had to wake with the rooster crowing and arrive at Ludowici, the next county to the west by 6am. I was assigned as a poll watcher and would be here all day until the last person voted and the results displayed.

I would be the only poll watcher located at the city hall – no Republican was there. Unfortunately, I was only an outside poll watcher, so I was not allowed inside. I stayed in my car and watched people trickle in, about 50 per hour until the polls closed at 7pm. Then I had to wait until they posted the results on the front door.

The turn out in heavily Republican Long county was weak. That’s probably why the incumbents did not fare well.

It was a tough four days, but I left Georgia feeling quite accomplished, and the next day exhilarated when I heard that we had swept Georgia and made history, both locally and nationwide.

President-elect Biden would have his majority in the Senate and would have an easier time getting his relief bill passed.

One thought on “Rural GA Matters

  1. What an interesting story. Always wondered whether canvassing makes an impact. From the senate race results, I guess it does work after all

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