For far too long, Republicans have assumed that they never have to worry about losing the 48th Congressional District in South County. But this year, the Steve Young for Congress campaign is doing something to give the GOP plenty of grief and heartburn over the 48th. And in this next installment of TheLiberalOC.com’s summer-long “Inside the Campaigns” series, I’ll be giving you a closer look inside Steve Young’s effort to unseat John Campbell this year.
Around 8:45 last Saturday morning, I arrived at Steve Young’s campaign office in Irvine, near the Irvine Spectrum Center. And not too long after I arrive and the candidate himself arrives, the volunteers start pouring in for the 9:00 AM campaign training. And shortly after 9:00, the training begins.
Now I’m sure the campaign wasn’t planning for the Presidential Primary season to end just days before the training, but alas… That’s just what happened. So before the training could really get into full swing, we all had to watch Hillary Clinton give her final speech as a Presidential Candidate. We all stayed quiet and looked up to the projector screen to witness a historic end to a historic run… As well as the beginning of a united Democratic Party effort to elect Barack Obama this fall.
But since the entire purpose of the meeting wasn’t just to watch Hillary Clinton’s speech, the training resumed soon after the speech ended. Just before we paused for the speech, Steve Young began his presentation on the importance of person to person campaigning and local organizing. Oh yes, and after the Hillary Clinton speech we heard from another former Presidential Candidate: Michael Dukakis. No, he wasn’t at the office in person. But still, the video from his January appearance in Laguna Woods was a powerful testament to the importance of grassroots organizing. Everyone paid attention as Dukakis warned about not repeating the mistakes of the past by ignoring grassroots organizing.
After the Dukakis video, Steve Young spoke again and reinforced Dukakis’ point. He mentioned the many lessons learned from the last two campaigns he fought in 2005 and 2006. One was from an experience walking a Laguna Beach precinct with a local volunteer. She took Young around the neighborhood, talking to all the voters in the neighborhood and inviting them to a house party. Despite this area going for Republicans in the past, Young carried the precinct with 76% of the vote in 2006.
Young then shared with us some techniques on how to make our organizing efforts more effective. Everyone discussed the merits of walking neighborhoods, tips on making phone calls, and other ways to do personal outreach. I’d go into more depth and let you know the tricks of the trade, but I can’t give away too many secrets. You’ll need to attend one of these yourself.
Still, one secret that I can share with you is that Steve Young is forging together an integrated Democratic effort that isn’t just helping himself. In fact, most of the people attending this training were local Obama activists that want to spread the word about the Democratic Presidential nominee. Also, there was plenty of discussion on how to help local candidates win. And since one of the mottos of the Steve Young campaign is that “a rising tide lifts all boats”, they were more than happy to help everyone.
Before we were all released to go, campaign manager Marion Pack went over our precinct kits with us. Now that we all knew how to take to the neighbors, how to register voters, and how to keep in touch with the neighbors and make sure they vote Democratic, we were ready to get our materials and go. And at 1:00 PM, the training officially ajourned.
I must admit that it’s difficult not to like Steve Young and the campaign operation he’s put in place in the 48th. Not too long ago, too many Democrats were unaware that something was happening south of the El Toro Y. But now, Democrats are aware that a whole lot is going on down here. And while many Democrats were working this area before Steve Young entered the scene, his campaign has helped in making people more aware and strengthening the Democratic presence in South County.
So will Steve Young unseat John Campbell this year? Well, I guess this year may be the best time to try. I just know that no matter how big the Democratic tsunami is in 2008, the Steve Young campaign is ready to make the most of it.