Project Wonderful

Thursday, December 9, 2010


Thank you to everyone who voted for me for the Most Valuable Organizer Award! And sorry for spamming your facebook walls. Voting is now closed. I doubt I'll win but, and I mean this in all sincerity, knowing 130 people took the time to vote for me (and that people actually read my blog) feels like a prize unto itself!

If you are going to Rootscamp this weekend and want to blog about it here, please let me know.

Have fun!


Euglogising Elizabeth

nb: I deleted this post because I thought it was too harsh in light of her death less than 24 hrs after I wrote it. Then, after reading facebook messages from my former colleagues, I thought the best tribute I could pay would be to put it out there honestly.

Normally, I don't think I have the right to weigh in on public figures' personal troubles, but Mrs.Edwards played such a profound role in the shaping of who I am, that I feel somewhat justified.

Elizabeth Edwards lent a narrative element to my life. I identified with her because she was sick. I imagined myself playing first lady to a more charismatic, less intelligent politician, sacrificing my career and my sense of self for the cause. That didn't work out so well for her, and there but for the grace of God go I.

When I met her, she wasn't particularly nice to me, but how nice would I have been to someone praising my husband who had cheated on me while I had cancer and was now asking me to keep it a secret?

Finally, when John Edwards let the other shoe drop and admitted to having an affair, Paul Krugman said this. I would argue it is even more true of Mrs. Edwards. I always got the feeling that she was pushing her husband to be more progressive:

"One more thing: if we do get real health care reform, a lot of people will owe a debt of gratitude to none other than John Edwards. When Mr. Edwards dropped out of the presidential race, I credited him with making universal health care a “possible dream for the next administration.” Mr. Edwards’s political career is over — but perhaps he and his family can take some solace from the fact that his party is still trying to make that dream come true."

Of course, when it comes to that family and gut instincts, I've been wrong before. Mrs. Edwards could be a power grabbing, money grubbing superficial jerk. Maybe she is a jerk, but a progressive one. We've all known a few of those. Like so many people and things from that time, it isn't just black and white (or red and blue). Being sick, after all, doesn't necessarily make one a good person...but it does serve as a reminder that we're human. And so, if only for my own sake, I'm choosing to give her the benefit of the doubt.

Whatever her motivations, Elizabeth Edwards didn't intend this to be her legacy. I'm guessing she had higher hopes for her marriage, her political ambitions, her family. I'm guessing she thought her sacrifices would be worth it. If one or two things had gone differently, she might have been right. Can I really blame her for misjudging John Edwards? After all, so did I. She was progressive, smart, ambitious and had a compelling personal story. Maybe she should have run for office.

So there's a lesson to be learned: Better to make it on your own than with someone who doesn't deserve you. I hope her generation is the last generation of women to have to learn this the hard way.

For all her faults, I'll choose to remember her for what she meant to me at the time and what she could have been.

I feel for you, Elizabeth Edwards, and I honor your legacy. I hope that you and your family find peace.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Mark Dayton, Uffda!

In case you haven't heard, Mark Dayton has officially won the Minnesota Governor's race.

Congratulations to Gov-elect Dayton and to the wonderful activists who made it happen!

No matter how many recounts they go through, DFLers will always have a special place in my heart!

Monday, December 6, 2010

It's about damn time.

New Yorkers lobby for early voting, same day registration, etc.

Because we are 47th in voter turnout. Ya think?

Organizer Store- Holiday Edition

Is there a special organizer in your life? A boss who has been an inspiration to you in the past year? An ill advised campaign relationship that you have decided to extend into the holidays?

What to get for the Organizer who has everything?

Sure, you could go the traditional stocking stuffer route, but why not get her something that shows that you really get her?

Behold, the organizer's wish list...

1) A T-shirt Quilt. Between my sorority days and the various campaigns I've worked on, I can barely see my floor for the t-shirts strewn all over it. Memories too precious to throw away and too ratty to wear as anything other than pajamas, what more practical way to preserve and display them than a cuddly blanket? Campusquilts is the company I found through Google, but I am sure there are many companies that do this. Simply select a background color and send them your t-shirts and they take care of the rest! If your time vs. money equation works out so that you want to attempt your own and you have the artistic talent, there are instructions to make a T-shirt quilt here.

2) Campaign Barbie! Okay, technically, Barbie for President. They come out with one every year of a Presidential election. This is a link to buy it on, but a friend got me mine at a thrift store. If your organizing friend is a lady who can get rough and tumble with the boys but still likes to slip on a dress every once in a while, this is a gift that she can kept on her desk year round to remind her that you appreciate her for the special blend that she is.

3) Speaking of special blends, Starbucks Via. I'm a big fan of creature comforts and of Starbucks coffee. The great thing about these instant coffee packets is that you can keep them in your glove compartment, in true organizer fashion, and have access to good coffee anywhere. If your friend doesn't already have one, you can pair this gift with a Starbucks Gold Card loaded with an amount of your choosing. With discounts on refills and syrup plus a free drink every 15 purchases, it's the gift that keeps on giving! (Both available at

4) For the truly decadent operative, why not a Swavorski Crystal Clipboard? This company makes them for race cars, but there's no reason you can't get one made for campaign purposes. Because it's totally impractical and will wind up breaking you say? Okay, but is jewelry really any better? Just think of all the opportunities she will have to show off this gift to her coworkers. This is personalized bling that she will get use out of and won't give her the momentary heart attack that she's being proposed to.

I realize these gifts lean lady-centric, so feel free to send suggestions for gender neutral gifts.

Until then, happy holidays!


Sunday, December 5, 2010

Ivory Coast Update

NYT Article Here.

Two parallel governments in a steel cage death match. Who will prevail? Stay Tuned...

Friday, December 3, 2010

'Tis the season for street canvassers

How do you deal with street canvassers?

You know, the people who stand on the sidewalk and ask you for money for Greenpeace, Planned Parenthood and the like.

Whenever I am walking with a friend and we're approached by a person holding a clipboard, I can almost hear my companion's inner monologue, "Please don't stop Nancy, don't do this...ugh here she goes."

As someone who has had to approach people on the street on a professional basis, I can't bring myself to bristle by. Comedy promoters maybe, but political fundraisers never. At the same time I am not willing to give them money. For one, if I have time to be walking leisurely down the street, I am likely unemployed at the moment. Second, call me paranoid, but I am not giving my credit card number to a stranger in a red vest. And, third, on advice of my favorite financial expert, Suze Orman (a big contributor to progressive candidates) , I plan my giving carefully, and according to this article, only 8% of money raised through Grassroots Campaigns goes back to the client organizations.

So, what to do? I stop and smile and firmly state that I will not give them money. Usually it sounds something like this "Hi, Cameron, nice to meet you. I am happy to sign a petition if you have one, but I am unemployed and I won't be able to give you money." If they push, I state again "I hear you, but there is no way I am able to give you money today."

It may sound harsh, but my rationale is that by being firm, yet polite, I am acknowledging that they are a person with a legitimate request and am not wasting their time. It's the most I could hope for in a similar position.

Do you guys feel guilt and camaraderie in this situation? I would love to get feedback from someone who has actually done this job. Am I right, or am I being the worst cross between a field organizer and a New Yorker?

What do you think?



According to this article, 17% of votes cast in New York City in the midterms were not counted.

Not that I should be surprised. Check out this post from the primary to read my feelings on the subject.

When, when, when are we going to figure this out?

And you thought we were a mess...

Elections were held in the Ivory Coast last week after being delayed for FIVE YEARS.

"The winner should already be known. But on Tuesday night, with reporters looking on and television cameras rolling, an electoral commission member with ties to President Laurent Gbagbo grabbed sheets of voting results as they were about to be announced. He crumpled them, then angrily tore them up...Troops have been summoned to this commercial capital. A 7 p.m. curfew, strictly enforced, has been proclaimed. Normally teeming streets were deserted on Wednesday, except for armed soldiers and United Nations forces."

This article is really interesting as is this more recent one in which the election council declares current President Gbagbo the winner in a decision rejected by the UN.

I'm going to spare you my trite commentary on the peaceful transfer of power, (I get chocked up when I imagine the exchange between George Washington and John Adams) and just leave you with the suggestion that this story is one worth following.

Mad Hater

The President of the Tea Party thinks only the landed gentry should vote.

"The Founding Fathers originally said, they put certain restrictions on who gets the right to vote. It wasn't you were just a citizen and you got to vote. Some of the restrictions, you know, you obviously would not think about today. But one of those was you had to be a property owner. And that makes a lot of sense, because if you're a property owner you actually have a vested stake in the community. If you're not a property owner, you know, I'm sorry but property owners have a little bit more of a vested interest in the community than non-property owners."- Judson Phillips

I think my favorite part of this quote is the nonchalance with which he addresses the voting rights of say...African Americans and Women, like "some we wouldn't think of today, but really whatever."

Interpreting The Constitution this way is the same as interpreting The Bible to justify homophobia. As long as we're taking the cafeteria approach, it seems obvious to me that we should lean toward the spirit of a document (compassion, equality, etc) and not the antiquated bigotries of a particular time. But hey, that's me. What do I know? I'm a woman.

Besides Women and African Americans some other groups that would not be able to vote under this "strict interpretation" students, anyone who rents their apartment, many people in the armed forces, people who live in a home owned by their spouse, senior citizens in nursing homes...

Granted, this plan would out work well for Judson Phillips and his cohorts. So I propose this: we put his plan to a vote, but first my plan to require an intelligence test before registering. Obviously, this is not something which I would actually advocate, but neither would Mr. Phillips, for very different reasons.

Monday, November 29, 2010

G.O.T. ME!!!

In case you have not seen my facebook status lately, I have been nominated for the 2010 Rootscamp Most Valuable Organizer Award! Consummate organizer that I am, I can't help but ask for your vote. If you like my blog or better yet, me, please vote by clicking here and scrolling down to "like" me on this page. Thanks to everyone who nominated me and thanks in advance for your vote!


Friday, November 26, 2010

Thinking of Grad School?

Me too. In fact, it's consuming my life. Well, right now I am procrastinating by letting myself become obsessed over the things I wish I had done differently in this process. Though this isn't strictly campaign related, I do think that some of these regrets come from my having chosen a non-traditional career path. So I figured, as I often do, that I would try to give you the opportunity to learn from my mistakes.

Here is some advice I wish someone had given me in preparation for the grad school application process.

1) Take some classes.
Even though my programs don't require me to post-bac, I wish I had done this anyway. A lot of public policy and business programs require strong quantitative skills and although we all know where these come into play on a campaign, it's less obvious to others and scoring well in a math or econ class could solve that. In addition, if your grades weren't great in college, as mine were not, it gives you an opportunity to prove that you've matured. Finally if you've been out of school for a while, it's an opportunity to cultivate an academic reference, and one who is more experienced in writing letters of recommendation than your campaign colleagues are likely to be, which brings me to number 2...

2) Give your references plenty of warning, and coaching. You should probably do this anyway, but it goes double if your references are campaign folk. Asking these people to write a reference in October of an election year is far from ideal. You don't want to miss out on a reference who knows you well because they don't have time and you don't want them to do a rushed job. In addition, your friends and colleagues are probably unfamiliar with the application process so it useful to give them plenty of coaching about writing a good recommendation. Talk to admissions officers about what they are looking for in an application and then use your recs to highlight your strengths with specific examples and to help address any holes.

3) Start your applications early, not just the essay. I made this mistake with my early applications. I spent weeks writing answers to the long essay questions, but had not considered what I would include in my resume, what if anything, I would write about having been sick in college in the portion where they ask if there is any additional information the admissions committee should know, and how long it would take to track down and upload my transcripts in the proper format. Ideally I would fill all of these out ahead of time, and have uploading my final essays as the last step.

4) Visit the campus. Trying to distinguish between schools from their websites and viewbooks is kind of like online dating- you won't get a real feel for them until you meet them in person. Undergraduate institutions have distinct personalities and so do their graduate counterparts. Not only will pre-application visits save you time and money on applying to places you wouldn't actually want to go, they will help you get a feel for the culture of the school and thus what to include in your application.

5) Be able to make an argument for why you need your degree. I like to joke that I have a PhD in Campaign Management from the school of hard knocks, and yet here I am pursuing not one, but two masters. I was actually good about this one. I thought long and hard about what I wanted out of a graduate degree and which programs fit my career goals before I began to apply. If you can't explain to yourself why you need a degree from that institution to achieve your goals, then how can you explain it to the school? The more specific the better.

I'm looking forward to sharing my personal statement with you. Ideally, after having been accepted.

With campaign love and grad school ambitions,

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Are you Campaignsick?

It happens every year after election day. For the first few weeks, I go on vacation, I sleep, I see my friends. Then one day I wake up with this manic feeling that I have to do something.

If there is one lesson I learned from working for OFA, it's the importance of not letting our skills get rusty. Here are 5 ways to remain connected during the off season, without hoping back in whole hog.

1) Rootscamp or other professional development programs. I have not been to a Rootscamp event myself but I was at the NOI Campaign Manager training last year and it awesome. I learned a lot, and I'm me. I would be endorsing them ANYWAY, but while you are on their page, you can click here to vote for me for the Most Valuable Organizer of 2010.

2) Talk to your Representatives We got them elected (or one of our colleagues did) and now it's time to hold their feet to the fire. Find out what issues are up for debate in your area and take action. Here is a link to contact your representatives' offices and here is one to tweet them!

3) Blog about it! This blog started as a way for me to stay connected to the campaign community when I thought I was sitting out last cycle (ha!). It became a way to for me to share my thoughts, best practices, etc. I want this to be a forum for discussion on what can be an esoteric topic. I am sure you have things you'd like to share too. If you are interested in guest blogging, or you'd like me to link to a blog or article you already have set up, just let me know!

4) Volunteer! You know you want to and I'll just keep calling you if you don't! has great ways to get involved in your community and of course OFA!

5) Join the Club! Stay connected with a group like the Young Democrats of America. Their website is down right now, but you can find your state chapter through a quick google search.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

PCPB- A National Epidemic

Post Campaign Physical Breakdown. A phenomenon that is sweeping the nation.

Symptoms include: lethargy, sore muscles, cold-like symptoms, hang-over like symptoms and a refusal to talk on the phone.


Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Election Reflection

Please Press Play

To those of us who won last night: Congratulations! Watching people I love win races I've worked on is one of the best feelings in the world!

To those of us who didn't: I know that feeling too, and it sucks. Like any heartache, it will take time to heal, but I hope you can take solace in knowing that you left it all on the field.

And to all of my friends who worked on races across the country: I am incredibly proud of the work we've done together these past four years, regardless of yesterday's outcomes, and grateful every day to be a part of such an extraordinary community of people. I look forward to celebrating many victories with you in the future.

I love you guys a whole, whole lot...and now, some sleep.


Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Bridgeport is CRUSHING it!

Vote for Mr. Rhythm

Sing it, Ella!

Duck On Water

One of the best pieces of advice I ever received about GOTV is that "you should be like a duck on water." Under the surface you may be paddling furiously, but for the world to see you just glide along and let things roll off your back.

For all the ways in which this GOTV is eerily similar to the one I ran four years ago in Minnesota (more on that later) one thing has changed: I don't freak out. I don't. This was news to my first boss who was reminiscing last night about the time I bit someone's head off the night before the election, and believe me, I can breakdown with the best of 'em, but the truth is it's just not productive.

The BEST lesson I have learned from campaigns is that sometimes the most worthwhile thing you can do to contribute to an operation is to simply be reasonable. This seems obvious, but its a rare individual who can be the calm among the storm. So here are my rules for being a Duck on Water during GOTV:

1) Be an Indian. Everyone wants to be running the show, and good field people are protective of their operation, but sometimes the best thing you can contribute in the chaos is to be the person sticking labels on doorhangers or putting together walk packets, even if this is generally below your pay grade.

2) Don't ask questions.
Everyone is tired and stressed out, and sometimes silly calls will be made. Like the FD who asked me to send him a spreadsheet with the number 5 next to every polling place for the number of yardsigns being deployed. Obviously if a BIG mistake is about to be made, you should stop it, but sometimes it's better to let the little stuff slide, even if it isn't what would happen if everyone had more sleep.

3) Don't take it personally. We all care deeply about electing Democrats. Under pressure and with very little sleep, people WILL snap at you. You are my hero if every single time you can say to yourself "its not me, its just GOTV."

4) Put people on hold. Prepare for multiple, simultaneous, demands on your time. Learn how to communicate that "your issue is important to me and you are on my radar, I will be with you in five minutes."

5) Over thank. This includes fellow staff members. No one knows what your coworkers are going through better than you. Town committee chairs, activists and candidates will forget to thank them this week. Everyone will appreciate if you are the exception. Bonus points if you bring them coffee.

Look forward to more Eday updates!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Pro Tip: Be a Yardsign

I made my yardsign Halloween costume yesterday. I know what you're thinking, but it took less than 2 minutes to make. I did it while being yelled at by a town party chair about lit. All you need are scissors, and a yardsign bag. Cut a hole in the top for your head and two on the sides for your arms. Then tape the above poster on the back and...voila! A campaign friendly Halloween costume!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Someone trained this kid really well...

So I know you probably saw this a year ago, and probably sent it to me, but I was blinded by primary campaign bitterness at the time. This kid gives me hope for the future. The best part is the end.

Matt Damon supports WFP. How cool is that?

I'm conflicted...I really don't want Matt Damon to support the Yankees. I love the Red Sox, but I love WFP more.

If you live in New York Please consider voting your values on Row E.


Saturday, October 23, 2010

The 15 Commandments...

How have I not posted these yet?

15 Commandments towards Effective Organizing

1. You are an Organizer...Be organized
2. Things are always great… Be positive
3. Think with your head; be driven by your heart
4. People come to a campaign for a candidate… they stay because of you.
5. Empower yourself, empower others
6. Respect your co-workers.
7. NEVER lie
8. The phone is your weapon
9. If it's not written down it doesn't exist.
10. Numbers win Campaigns
11. Have goals… Be Accountable… Make others accountable
12. Some is not a number, soon is not a time. HARD NUMBERS COUNT
13. Keep it simple, stupid
14. Time is the most valuable resource you have. Don't Waste it
15. When you are not working the other side is!


President Obama for the "It Gets Better" project. I am very curious to hear what Dan Savage has to say about this given his recent comments about the President. I personally think Pres.Obama hit just the right note here.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

2 Legit 2 Commit

I LOVE the OFA New Media team!

Awesome tool to share your reasons for voting with your facebook friends.

You can jump "levels" by getting others to commit to vote too, it's like a game! (Only with important consequences for health care, civil liberties and the environment).

New media has come so far since I started organizing, and although it will never replace field, when well done it is a great supplement to other efforts!


Did you know....

That a voter who you knock with a GOTV message on election day is 10% more likely to vote AND other registered voters in their household are 6% more likely to vote, even though you didn't actually talk to them?

Now you do. Thanks Analyst Institute!

Pro-Tip: Send Cookies

We always love the volunteers who feed us, even if they refuse to do voter contact. It's not like we couldn't order pizza on our own, but there's something comforting about someone trying to nurture us in a world filled with crazy activists, angry voters and demanding bosses.

With this philosophy in mind, I sent GOTV cookies to some of my friends working on Senate races across the country. I went with KelleysKookies because they looked more homemade and less corporate than a Harry and David affair, although for all I know they are baked by Republicans.

This turned out to be therapeutic for me as well as them. They got cookies and the message that someone out in the "real" world cares about them and I got to feel connected to them if only via baked good.

I also found this particularly useful when I had to ask for data help from one of their GOTV Directors, who had profited from my care package.

13 Days out from an election, who couldn't use a little good karma?

Peace, Love and Walk Lists,


Monday, October 18, 2010

Why We Fight

Sometimes I really can't remember why I do this job. The long hours, the stress, the screaming matches, and total lack of respect...and that's just from the volunteers!

I was listening to a piece on NPR this morning about the Chilean miners and how most of them want to go back to work in the mine!

"It gets in your blood," said one miner "it's part of you and that pull, it keeps pulling you, pulling you, pulling you in."

I feel you, buddy.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Best. Halloween Decorations. Ever.

Somebody in Hartford has up an AMAZING Halloween display. I only wish I had thought of this.

Red-Queen-Sarah-Palin terrorizing Alice-in-Wonderland-Michelle-Obama

White- Rabbit-Bill-Clinton

Tweedle-Dee and Tweedle-Dumb-George-Bush

Thursday, October 14, 2010


Click the link above, this is a great tool to show REAL PROGRESS in your state since Democrats have been in power.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

It Gets Better

This is what integrity looks like. I would work on his campaign for free. Also,he met his partner in a campaign office!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Even Better

I don't know who is making these, but we should probably be friends.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Raise your hands higher!!!

My first GOTV training ever our State Director did the following exercise:

State Director: Everyone raise your hands!
Field Staff: (Raises hands)
State Director: As high as you can!
Field Staff: (Raises hands higher)
State Director: Higher!
Field Staff: (Raises hands higher)
State Director: Higher!
Field Staff: (Raises hands higher)
State Director:Liars.

The message? No matter how much you are doing, you can always do more.

26 Days Until Election Day!


Monday, October 4, 2010

Printing from VAN on a Mac

In case anyone is curious, the best way I've found to print from the VAN on my mac is by setting page side at 98% and making sure all the fields at the bottom of the print screen say "blank."


Saturday, October 2, 2010

Month Out Madness!!!

One Month Until Election Day!

Poop, there it is!

I've gotta admit, I woke up in a cranky mood this morning until the following happened:

Driving on 684, by the side of the road, I saw a porta potty with a homemade "Democrat HQ" sign on poster board taped to it. Would that I could have pulled over and taken a picture!

So many questions! Who did this? Did they import the potty, or was it there and inspired them to make the sign? And...why?

If they were trying to offend people, I'm pretty sure I was their target demographic. I was, after all, on my way to a Democratic headquarters. But, I found it hilarious. I love the idea of the satisfaction this person would get if they knew how well timed and well placed this sign really was.

So to you mystery Tea Party member/High Schooler/Drunk Field Organizer...I salute you! Thanks for brightening my day!

Exactly One Month 'Till Election Day!


Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Organizer Store Part #2- Campagne

I have had this idea for years: a carbonated, alcoholic energy drink called Campagne. Get it?

You could even get it printed with your campaign's logo on the label.

The question is, would campagne be a celebratory beverage for election night or a staying-up-late-in-the-office-having-a-beer type beverage. Discuss.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Fall Premieres

Do you guys know how annoying it is when the season finale of your favorite show leaves you with cliffhanging excitement and giant plot leaps forward only to return in the fall with everything miraculously restored to the natural order of things?

Well that is my life right now. I am in my hometown sitting in Starbucks, considering jumping on a campaign mostly because I'm not sure what else to do. But after that I'm moving to Boston permanently and going to grad school. Wait, where have I heard this before?

But I mean, it's not like I'd be working with the same people or like I'm deluding myself into thinking I'm going to continue to lose weight while I'm there...oh wait, yes it is.

I'm not really one for those Ross and Rachel type relationships. If you break up with someone, or something for that matter, it was probably for a good reason. Sometimes I scare myself with extent to which I can disassociate from entire swatches of my life... (This is why my High School friend, Rachel, remembers EVERYTHING we said and did and all I can say is "It sounds like that happened")... with one notable exception.

I don't think people in other professions have this problem. Like no one is on their way to grad school and starts thinking "I'm going to miss my old job so much!" But I know you guys feel me, which is maybe why I feel this way in the first place. The people I've worked with on campaigns are passionate, driven and committed to what they do in both a deeply moving and deeply creepy way. That's a big part of why, despite everything I just said, I'm not quite ready to be done. Where else am I going to find people who get me like that?

I wish I knew how to quit you,


Thursday, September 23, 2010


Check Out This July Press Release on the VAN Website.

"Voter Activation Network (VAN) has teamed up with TargetSmart Communications to offer VAN’s powerful organizing technology platform and TargetSmart’s nationwide voter file and consumer data as a single convenient, integrated package.

The joint offering, called “SmartVAN”, is now available under a single contract, allowing customers to get all of the data and technology they need to run an organizing campaign, without having to manage multiple contracts. The package can include blast email, phone services, membership management tools, website and new media consulting, and even detailed individual-level consumer marketing information."

Did you guys know about this? Voter File, and Consumer Data, and Tech Support, Oh My!

10 Rules for Savvy Campaign Staffers

A former boss/wonderful advice giver of mine sent these to me a couple of years ago. So far this is best selection I have received on making the campaign lifestyle sustainable. Enjoy!

1.Choose your candidates carefully. Do your research, make sure you’'re taking a job that you can live with on key issues and staff personality. Also make sure the campaign is funded well-enough to actually pay you.

2.Build your personal budget. You can’t accurately gauge what you can
live on if you don’t know how you’'re actually living.

3.Get your offers in writing. Best way to do this is to confirm the offer, start date and salary in an email. Gives you something to fall back on in case you get suckered into an unscrupulous campaign.

4.Negotiate. You won’t get rich, but you needn’t always negotiate only for money. Ask about healthcare, mileage, cell phone reimbursements, housing or even just a couple of weekends off during the course of the campaign. The most effective negotiation is done before you start with the campaign.

5.Find a suitable living situation. The campaign should help.

6.Keep every receipt. Many expenses are tax deductible when you live on the road. Easiest thing to do is to keep them all and let your accountant figure it out at the end of the year.

7. You cannot afford to eat every meal out or drink every night at a bar. Eat breakfast, pack a lunch. You will save $450-$500/month by trimming how much you eat out. And while grabbing a beer after work is a staple in the campaign lifestyle, it doesn’t need to be every night and it needn’t always be a bar.Grab your friends and a sixer and go to someone’'s house. Savings here are is closer to $200/month.

8. You cannot afford to buy every coffee by the cup. Get a French press and make your own, or convince your office to get a coffee maker. You'’ll save close to $150-$200 per month.

9. A good campaign office will have three basic appliances: a refrigerator, a microwave and a water cooler. A great office will have a coffee maker.

10. The three NEVER's: Never pass up an opportunity to get a good night’'s
sleep, never pass up an opportunity to eat a free meal and never, ever put anything campaign related on your credit card!

Rule number 10 should be etched in stone.

40 Days Until Election Day!


"All Faggots Must Die"

I try not to get too much into the political/legislative side of stuff on here, but this just made my stomach turn.

The above quote was posted from an IP address in Saxby Chambliss' US SENATE OFFICE in Georgia as comment on a blog about the DADT Cloture Vote (Don't even get me started on that one.)


Just in case you needed a reason to go to work tomorrow.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Organizer Store Part #1-Fashion for my passion

Many of you know that it's been my secret dream to open an online organzier store. In fact, it was about 20% of the inspiration for this blog. However my target demographic is small and frequently broke,so my dreams never took flight...until now! Behold the first in what I hope will be an ongoing series of "The Organizer Store."

As Margaret Cho's mother would say, "Nancy loves two things-Campaigns and Sundresses."

Long have I extolled the advantages of canvassing in a dress. It's cooler, it's easier to move in, and dressing up helps you feel less like the sleep deprived zombie that you know you are. Jersey sundresses are perfect for campaigns because they don't wrinkle and don't require dry cleaning. You can bunch it up, throw it in your purse and put it on two minutes before an event!

The one problem is that they don't always have pockets. I'd usually wind up carrying my keys or attempting to affix them to my clipboard. But never fear dear friend! I went out and found you an adorable jersey dress WITH zip pockets so your keys and phone won't fall out, on You're welcome!

I don't recommend going this route if you're a boy...nor do I recommend canvassing in that much make up...and probably if you look like me you should throw on a tank top underneath, but you get the picture.

Let me know what you think!


Monday, September 20, 2010

You're Hired!

If you, or more likely someone you know, is looking for a campaign job, I have some very close and awesome friends who are hiring organizers and regionals. Shoot me an email if interested.

Also, after my that last fairly negative post, I wanted to suggest some ways that capable, good-looking and motivated people can find jobs on campaigns (besides networking which is really the best way to go).

Jobs that Are Left:

Tom Mantos Jobs List: email

New Organizing Institute:

Democratic Gain:

There are, of course, others, but these are the ones in which I have actually had success.

Happy Hunting!


You're Fired!

Don't get me wrong, field organizers have it tough- long hours, low pay and a lot of stress. It's understandable that we are so reticent to fire them. I firmly believe that it is our job as managers to do everything we can to support our organizers and help them succeed, including letting them know just what they are getting into before they start.

However, even the most dutiful manager winds up with the occasional bad seed, as happened to one of my friends recently, and has happened to almost all of us. My friend wanted to fire an under-performing organizer, who routinely left work early, walked out during calltime and complained constantly, but was told he could not, because it's just not done.

Last year I attended the New Organizing Institute's Campaign Manager training, where they showed me the above chart by expert manager Jack Welch. Welch argues that there are TWO types of employees who should be let go: those who do NOT live by the values of the organization whether they produce results or not. Welch argues that like a cancer, a poor attitude will spread throughout an organization and eventually do more harm than good.

How many times have we experienced this? Let's face it, as an organizer, its taxing but it isn't difficult to at least be decent at your job, and its always those who work the least who complain the most, bringing others down with them.

Sure its hard to find new staff, but I would argue its harder to spend your time cleaning up after bad staff, so like Moses before me, on behalf of my friend and all my colleagues, I beg you for the sake of success, LET MY PEOPLE GO.

L'Shana Tova,

Thursday, September 16, 2010

"The Politician"

Has anyone else heard about Aaron Sorkin working on a John Edwards movie?

I heard rumors about a Sorkin directed movie a few months ago, but nothing since, and information on the subject is sparse. Aaron Sorkin has been getting buzz lately because of "The Social Network" or as I call it, "That facebook movie staring the kid who isn't George Michael," but of course we know him as the creator of the West Wing and The American President.

If this is true, private screening at my apartment, complete with lots and lots of alcohol! Though may I make a suggestion? A surprise ending where justice is served and Edwards is sentenced to a year in Iowa working 16 Hour days for $1,500 a month.

Onwards, Upwards, Edwards,


PS. Why is this the stock Edwards guilt photo? Thanks to Sam "Seaborn" Hagedorn for reminding me about this.

Watch This Video

If you are responsible for planning a GOTV effort, or if you are just a nerd like me, you need to watch this video. Powerful Stuff.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

A Vacation In Hell

"Participants describe it as a fraternity, a relaxing retreat, a college road trip adventure, a march to war, a vacation in hell."

An article in politico (which for the record knows NOTHING about actually working on campaigns) talking about Republicans leaving Washington to go help on races across the country, but it could easily be about Democrats.

Hooray for out of state volunteers! On the one hand, if you leave DC to volunteer on a race for two weeks and then talk about how you "worked" on a campaign....aaaaah no. On the other hand, big hugs and kisses to the out of state volunteers who have helped me throughout the years, especially a young man who sang Burt Bacharach via Facebook with me last night.

And finally a thought, I AM an out of state volunteer. Right now I am on GCHAT with one of my friends (who I first met when HE was an out of state volunteer) talking about high school outreach on his Senate race. It's the circle of life.

You can take the girl out of the campaign, but you can't take the campaign out of the girl...

If it's broke, break it more, repeatedly...

My friend, Natalie, brought my attention to this article about broken voting machines from the New York Times Blog. Every year, this happens. They want to blame the new machines, but I was working in Brooklyn this time last year and it was the same story, polls mysteriously opening too late, machines breaking down, etc. All of which leads to DISENFRANCHISEMENT, the ugliest word in the English language and the bane of my professional existence.

As this article points out TEN YEARS after the infamous hanging chads, we still can't figure out an efficient, reliable and user friendly standard method for voting? Really? At the risk of using an expression I have never used before, this kind of thing really burns my britches. We spend all this time convincing people that their vote matters and that voting is their right and responsibility and then they get to the polls and there is another obstacle to prevent them from exercising that right. Voting should be as accessible as humanly possible and there is no reason other than laziness, incompetence or corruption that these sort of shenanigans still plague us!

Also, how confused does that lady look?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

I voted!!!

Ladies and gentlemen, today I did something I have never done before. I voted, not absentee, not early, not in a district I had only lived in for six months, in the sleepy hamlet of Chappaqua, NY, the town in which I was raised.

I know I just went through a whole song and dance about how I wasn't going to get to vote today, but then I thought "Just because I don't live anywhere, doesn't mean I shouldn't vote somewhere." After all, I distinctly remember getting a walksheet in Iowa printed from the VAN that said, "Homeless corner of Dubuque and Davenport." If he can vote, so can I, and since my parents' house is my default permanent address, I felt justified.

I arrived to vote around 2pm and was surprised to find a line, albeit a short one. Not too shabby for a primary in a midterm year when the highest competitive race is Attorney General in a town as small as mine. (This was AFTER I figured out where I was going, because once I entered the building there were no signs indicating that voting was on the second floor.) THEN, and this is the best part, the woman hands me my ballot explains how to fill it out, and says "and then IF you want it to be a secret you put it in this folder here." Wait....IF?

Granted New York was trying out new voting machines (see my next post), but still...if I HAD been working this election, electric currents would have been shooting out my brain. Also, they didn't give me a sticker!

Still as I enjoyed a pumpkin spice latte on this beautiful autumn day, I felt particularly American after my first civilian voting experience.

Viva la Republic!


Vote, Baby, Vote!

Happy Primary Day! Please enjoy my favorite election day song! Does anyone know how I can make this my ring tone?

Monday, September 13, 2010

Tomorrow is Primary Day!

Tomorrow is election day in a number of places, including my adopted home town of Cambridge, MA. One of the races on the ballot is Sal DiDomenico vs. Tim Flaherty for State Senate. I worked on this race when it was a special election primary in April, for a candidate who lost. (For what its worth I would be voting for DiDomenico if I could.)

And now...I can't even vote, because I just moved out of my sublet. I also can't help any of my friends who are working on races tomorrow because I will be recovering at my parents' house in New York.

I feel about as useless as bacon at a Bar Mitzvah...but less delicious.

The message:

This PSA brought to you from the Alan and Susan Solomont Center for Oncology and Hematology, and by viewers like you.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

They're all a bunch of crooks and liars

I enjoyed this Op-Ed from Eugene Robinson, in which he compares the mood of the American electorate to a temper tantrum.

"The nation demands the impossible: quick, painless solutions to long-term, structural problems. While they're running for office, politicians of both parties encourage this kind of magical thinking. When they get into office, they're forced to try to explain that things aren't quite so simple -- that restructuring our economy, renewing the nation's increasingly rickety infrastructure, reforming an unsustainable system of entitlements, redefining America's position in the world and all the other massive challenges that face the country are going to require years of effort. But the American people don't want to hear any of this. They want somebody to make it all better. Now. "

The job of enfranchising the electorate is a noble one...but they don't make it easy, do they?

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Mistakes were made

Working on grad school applications I encountered the question "What did you learn from a mistake?"

Immediately, my mind jumped to Iowa. All kinds of mistakes. Where to begin? Let's start with thinking John Edwards could have beaten Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama in the first place (for the record, we actually DID beat Hillary in Iowa.) Then there was Elizabeth Edwards' decision to allow her husband to run while she had cancer and after having cheated on her.

I remember vividly working on a Superman style JRE poster with a coworker and proudly presenting it to Mrs. Edwards. Can you imagine working on your husband's Presidential campaign sick, cheated on, having to talk about how great he is EVERY day and then two idealistic twenty year olds presenting you with a poster extolling him as superhuman? There are A LOT of things for which I feel Elizabeth Edwards and her estranged husband owe me an apology, but for this one, I'm sorry.

Then there were the mistakes made by others on the campaign. I won't go into them here (although they are in my essay) except to say I learned a lot about how NOT to treat my staff by example.

But regardless of what anyone else did, the biggest mistakes were made by me. Yes the chips were stacked against us politically, and I was met with a lot of unnecessary adversity from so called activists and colleagues, but I still had control over my own reactions, and I failed. I was nasty to my coworkers, whether they deserved it or not, disrespectful to my higher ups, whether they deserved it or not, and all around a stick in the mud.

I think maybe the greatest irony of this new chapter of my life is the way that I remember things. Things that I know once made me happy, I have trouble remembering fondly. Yet when I look back at Iowa, a pastime that for months afterward could cause me to burst out crying, I now have this wave of nostalgia. I made some of my best friends there. Some of my best stories happened there. I learned a lot about myself and about campaigns and in a very real way I grew up in that single year more than any other.

Looking back, I wish I hadn't taken myself too seriously to enjoy it.

One late night in Iowa I was on the phone with the first friend I ever made on campaigns, both of us frustrated, downtrodden and a little indignant at our predicament. He asked, as we often asked each other, "why do we do this to ourselves?" and I thought of the Howard Hughes quote "passion will drive you crazy, but is there any other way to live?"

Now if only I could explain this to an admissions board.

Mea Culpa.


Monday, August 30, 2010

Ain't no one comin' in for the windows

It's rare that I'm willing to admit that someone is smarter than me, especially when it comes to campaign stuff.

However, this week I had the opportunity to reconnect with a campaign friend who is most definitely smarter than me, and I was reminded of the smartest thing he ever said. I would love to give him a shout out here, but I haven't asked his permission, so we'll call him Jarreth.

Jarreth is mostly a policy guy and was working as a full time staffer on a campaign because he was friends with and believed in the candidate. Toward the end of the campaign, I asked him what was most surprising to him about campaigning, and doing field specifically. And he said,"policy on a campaign is like window dressing in a bordello."

Amazing. I loved that. I thought it summed up so perfectly just how far removed some campaign actions can be from the policies that we are ultimately hoping to enact through electing good leaders. Sign wars anyone? It is also my stock answer when people ask me why I don't want to work on the hill.

Let's be real. Ain't no one comin' in for the windows.

The Things We Carried

One of the best interns EVER, who shall remain nameless since he is currently working on a campaign, called me this weekend to tell me he found a Tufts University pen in a Cedar Rapids labor hall.

The pen doesn't necessarily belong to me, but it seems pretty likely, and I'd like to believe it does. I still have a pen from the church that used to practice loudly next to my office in MN on my first campaign in 2006. It says "With God All Things Are Possible," which I found fitting given the circumstances- me doing volunteer recruitment wedged between a very loud, out of key church and a day care center for mentally challenged adults.

I kid, but I really do like to think that years later I still carry literal and figurative pieces of these places with me and that I left a little something with them. Besides, Iowa already took my dignity, my youthful idealism and a year of my life, why not also my pen?

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Vote by The Submarines

It is my sincere hope for you that you never get your heart broken on, or worse yet by, a campaign. However, like a lot of people I've spoken to this week, if you work on campaigns long enough one or both of these things will happen to you.

Behold. Vote by the Submarines, the best song I know for campaign heartache.

I've listened to it many a time, staring out a car window after a certain campaign in Iowa....but that story for another time.

"I'm not saying
That there's no hope for this
But you have tried
To change my mind
And we all know
Our system's broken and I...
I'll never vote again.."

Wishing you success in your endeavors!


Yeah I know...

There were a bunch of primaries yesterday. I intentionally choose not to blog about them because I wanted this to be a different kind of "political" blog. You can get information about various primaries through Google news, Politico, the New York Times, or like I did, watching the news while eating vegan sushi with Jon.

Besides, primary shimary what I'm more concerned about is this. Fivethirtyeight is forecasting increasingly scary results for Democrats in the midterms. Sigh...where to begin?

I can't decide if being off the campaign trail this cycle is a blessing in that I'm avoiding a difficult environment or a curse in that I feel so powerless! I'm banking on my belief that taking this time to apply to school will pay off for my contribution to Democrats in the end.

In the meantime, I hope the information and opinions I post are helpful or at least amusing enough to take your mind off things...and also, have you asked me to volunteer?

68 Days Until the General Election,

Monday, August 23, 2010

The (Democratic) Party Don't Start 'Till I Walk In...

Okay, from what I can tell, Kesha Ram is actually pretty awesome. She's the youngest state legislator in the country. You can read more about her here.

Still, I am glad it wasn't me who found this picture (thank you, Lee) as I'm not sure I would be able to resist the urge to draw money signs through the S. I'm gonna guess she gets that a lot.

By the way, can you just imagine this guy walking into your office saying "I won't make calls or canvass, but I CAN help you by...."

I'm writing a blog!

Hello everyone! I'm writing a blog...about campaigns. I know what you're thinking "Doesn't Nancy hate blogs, especially those about campaigns ever since the politico debacle of 2007?" (That's right, Ben Adler, two can play at this game.) The answer is yes, I do, but I also read them frequently and while there are a lot of blogs out there about politics, very few of them accurately portray what I did/do.

This blog is going to be part selfish effort to stay connected to a community about which I care enormously, part collection of relevant subject matter and part forum for discussion. Ideally this will be the kind of blog I would have liked to have read as an organizer- a place to share information and keep sane.

I absolutely welcome any submissions/feedback and hope you will hold me to my promise of not making this one of those blogs that I hate.