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A Day in the Life: Virginia House of Delegates Candidate on 4 Hours Sleep with 2 Weeks to Go

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I spent most of the day Monday with Kellen Squire, candidate for the House of Delegates. By the time I reached his house outside Charlottesville, he had already been woken up from his luxurious four hours of sleep by his young son at 7 a.m., and had put in four hours of work on his campaign. That included filling out paperwork, completing a written interview for the press, going over his budget, practicing a speech, and writing a Daily Kos article.

When I arrived at his house, he ushered me in with a phone on his ear. While I calmed his dog down, I listened to Kellen giving an interview to a small, local newspaper. I’ve been following his campaign for so long, I could’ve probably given that interview for him! After he got off the phone, we went over a few upcoming videos he was making, and he rehearsed for a radio ad he was recording later in the day. Not a second went by without his phone beeping at him or a message from someone on his campaign staff coming through.

Just before we left to go tackle recording the radio ad, Kellen’s wife Cari came back home with their sons from preschool. I was reminded how much of a sacrifice the candidates’ families make. Their spouses have to take up the slack at home, with childcare and chores and errands. They have to put up with their whole world revolving around this campaign, every ounce of energy and time and attention being sucked into this effort. Their children have to tolerate being toted around to political events and canvassing, have to get used to seeing less of their parent, have to adjust to having their schedules thrown off much of the time. And guess what? From what I’ve seen of some of our incumbent delegates, these are exactly the same kinds of sacrifices their families make too.

After the radio ad, Kellen and I worked through some wording on a video he’d like to record, while simultaneously walking around looking for the location we were supposed to be meeting Linda Perriello, to start setting up for a fundraiser she was hosting that evening. It’s hard to work on wording something carefully when you have to stop and answer your phone every 30 seconds.

Once we found the location, Kellen and I helped lug supplies up two flights of stairs into a beautiful loft apartment in Downtown Charlottesville, above one of the Main Street stores. Kellen ran off to be interviewed on the radio, while I stayed behind to help set up. An hour later, Kellen came back, having changed clothes sometime in the interim. And then there were two hours of chatting with supporters and donors, and speeches. While Linda’s son Tom was introducing Kellen, Kellen was just shaking his head in amazement, still finding it hard to fathom being introduced by someone he admired so much and emulated.

By the time the event was over, and it was time for me to drive home, I was exhausted. And Kellen had not only put in four hours before I got there, but almost certainly was about to put in another four after I left, probably getting to bed at 2 or 3 a.m. again.

This grueling schedule is totally typical of many of our candidates. Not only that, but of many of our incumbent delegates too. They’re working crazy-long hours, attending and speaking at dozens of events a week, reading and writing articles, posting on social media, canvassing and talking to voters in other venues, answering emails and messages all day and night. They’re not doing it to rake in the big bucks for the job–$17,640 per year–nor, in most cases, for their egos.

They’re doing it for YOU. Because they believe that YOU deserve to be represented by people who want a welcoming and inclusive Virginia, people who want affordable healthcare and economic opportunities for everyone, people who want social and economic justice. Most of all, YOU deserve to be represented by people who are accountable to YOU.

They’re doing it for YOU. So, what are YOU doing for THEM?

The elections are in two weeks. That means you have two weeks to give back to them, to thank them for working and sacrificing so much to represent YOU. Here are the ways you can help:

  1. Volunteer to canvass for them. Knocking doors is the number one best way to reach out to voters. Is it fun for most people? Nope. Is it an incredibly important way to get Democrats elected? Yes. If you can find any way to put aside your discomfort, step out of your shell and canvass, there isn’t a campaign in any part of the state that wouldn’t desperately love your help. How do you do it? Go to the website of your candidate, and fill out their volunteer form, or leave a note with the campaign.
  2. The next best thing is to make phone calls for them. You can do this from the comfort of your home, with a phone and a laptop. This is a great way to remind Democrats that there’s an election, and to help them make a specific plan to vote. How do you do it? You can either sign up as a volunteer on your candidates’ website, and when they contact you, just tell them you want to phone bank. Or, you can sign up at We Volunteer, where most campaigns have phone bank information available.
  3. Texting is the newest, hottest way to reach out to voters. It’s easy to do from home, in your spare time. We’ve already sent hundreds of thousands of text messages for House of Delegates candidates and for Mark Herring. And now we’re heading into the final stretch, and the Coordinated Campaign is doing GOTV texting. You can sign up here.
  4. Postcards are by far the most fun, trendy way to reach out to voters. You can get templates and as many addresses as you like, and you can personalize the message as much or as little as you like. These are great party ideas! Even kids can get into the fun! Sign up here and here.
  5. Last but not least…just get out there and talk to your friends and neighbors. Talk to the customer in line in front of you at the grocery store. Talk to the parents at the school bus. Talk to the other parents at the soccer game. Tell everyone within earshot about the fantastic candidate you know of who’s running to represent you!

Remember how you felt when Virginia’s election results were looking grim for a few hours on November 8th last year? Were you confident that you personally had done every single thing within your power to make sure the election went the way you wanted? Or did you have regrets for not having stepped up to do more? Don’t have regrets this year. Leave it all on the table. Just like Kellen is doing.