How To Lose Ohio For Kerry - Way No. 847
Ohio Democrats have found many new and exciting ways to lose statewide elections in the past decade. Here's my personal favorite.
Election day, 2000, about 2 p.m. Despite the Gore campaign having written the state off 10 days out, everyone knew it was close and getting closer. I was dragging a group of seven volunteers into the most important Democratic congressional district in Ohio, Stephanie Tubbs Jones’ 11th Congressional District, to help knock on doors and get out votes in the heavily African American east side of Cleveland.
Parking our cars, we marched to the front door of the lead campaign office on Euclid Avenue, prepared to do whatever anyone asked us to do…but quite unprepared for the sight which greeted us.
The office was completely empty. No tables, no chairs, no phones. No boxes of literature, not a single doorhanger, sign, button, leaflet…nothing. Some guy was carrying a computer out the back door to a U Haul truck.
I walked back outside, checked the address on the front door…this was the place, alright. “Wait here a second,” I told my befuddled friends.
I charged right back in. “What the hell is going on here,” I said to the guy with the computer.
“Ask her,” he said, pointing at the campaign staffer in the corner, Betty Pinkney, the Congresswoman’s handpicked coordinator, who was standing next to a bank of charging mobile phones that were not in use, directing the movers.
“Betty,” I shouted, charging toward her, “I’ve got seven people here ready to go to work.”
She looked at me like I was some kind of insane person. I continued in futility. “What do you want them to do?”
“You’re too late,” she said insistently.
“We’re movin’ out.”
I paused and squnited. “What?”
“Lease is up…we’re moving out.”
“You must be joking,” I said. This was a new low.
“Nope,” Betty replied. “We’re done here.”
“It’s two o’clock!” I shouted. “The polls are open for another five hours!”
“You see that U Haul truck?” Betty finished. “This office is closed.”
And that was that.
Ohio is a tough state to win for Democrats. For John Kerry in 2004, a lot of things need to go right, a lot of breaks need to break his way, and a lot of activity needs to be executed with total perfection.
If the main campaign office in the most heavily Democratic congressional district in Ohio makes its top priority on election day packing up the damn U Haul truck, that means that very little has gone right, a lot of activity was poorly executed, and that George W. Bush will be President of the United States for another four years. It’s that simple.
Democrats in Ohio have not been known to learn from such mistakes, but rather, repeat them regularly. Early signs in 2004 don't look good.
If I were John Kerry, I’d plan to make a call to that office in Cleveland this November 2, about 2 pm…just to be sure.