by Oliver Keene
In the Southwest corner of Virginia, Democrats at mobilizing like never before.
Southwest Virginia was once the great stronghold of the Democratic Party in Virginia, but now it is solidly red on the state and federal level. Last year, the 9th Congressional District went 70% for Donald Trump and my county went 83% for Trump. The days after led to many friends and family being blocked or unfollowed on social media, and I am sure for many of us a very frustrating Thanksgiving holiday.
Finally, after we licked our wounds, we said NEVER AGAIN. A handful of us (no more than 15 people) got together and started to game plan. Now, here in Tazewell, it is safe to say that there is no Bernie verses Hillary divide, there is almost no Progressive vs. Establishment infighting, there are just Democrats trying to fight for the working people of the Coalfields of Southwest Virginia and central Appalachia.
Let me tell you about our work:
Our phone bankers have called over about 1,800 voters, with the phone bank run out of one of our wonderful volunteer’s home on our own cell phones and laptops.
Most of this same group has been a part of our letter-writing committee, which will soon have sent out more than 1,600 hand written letters and post cards. This group has brought paper and envelopes of their own, and with the help of the local committee, paid for postage.
And our volunteers for our candidates have knocked on around 1,000 doors in the county so far.
That is about 4,500 voters reached out to in the last three months. That is almost twice our total vote in 2016 (Hillary Clinton got 2,519 votes here to Trump’s 13,898). And this is not to mention how many voters have been contacted by our friends at Delegate Sam Rasoul’s group Democratic Promise!
This is how we turn Appalachia blue again. One voter at a time. There is no magic bullet that will suddenly win over the white working class or rural America, No issue we can add to the platform. But organizing and going out and listening to them and having real meaningful conversations will win them back. Of course it will not win them back all at once, but little by little it will.
What we are seeing in our door-to-door campaign is that voters are just thankful to have someone come ask them for their vote or to have someone come and talk to them about real issues and listen to what they have to say. Our letter writing group is running into people in Wal-Mart and at the local mall who are saying “Hey thank you so much for the letter! I really appreciate you taking the time to invite me to your committee and write me” or “Hey I got your letter! I am going to try to start coming!”.
Donald Trump himself must be getting worried about how awesome a job we are doing here in Southwest Virginia, because he called us out last week on Twitter. But we gave it right back to him!
We are doing great work and I am so proud of this hard working and dedicated committee. We have had some great help this year from our local candidates and our fantastic friends at Together Virginia, who have been so great to help us out with our expenses. But we are still terribly underfunded. Everything we have done this year we have done for less than $1,000 — and many of us have pitched in from our pockets. If you want to help us do more we would really appreciate any kind of small donation you can throw our way: https://t.co/vQ0ctdTeTs
Next year, we have the midterms and Senator Tim Kaine is up, and we already have two candidates announced to run for Congress in the 9th. So, we are going to need all the help we can get to reach twice as many voters next year!