Being a political junkie and as often as possible participant of presidential politics, I jumped at the chance to visit Nevada for the first in the West selection process.
This past week I went to Las Vegas to help John Edwards campaign for President. I met at least 5 other Portlanders also there helping Edwards. Though he’d had an organization in Nevada for months and many, many local and out of state volunteers, he lost. The media portrayed it as a distant third. Coming in at 4%, that was a kind portrayal. It was a great adventure none the less.
The days before the caucus I spent all my time contacting voters. It is the best and most important part of a campaign. Having worked on many campaigns now, I know volunteers often look forward to the other aspects and actively seek them out. I did no such thing. I thought nothing else mattered in my time there. Nevada voters seemed both at times appalled and in love with their new found attention.
Caucus day itself was spent at the Flamingo Hotel and Casino in one of the contested “at-large caucuses,” and it was quite the experience. Though not unexpectedly, my candidate didn’t make “viability” at the Flamingo meaning he earned no delegates and his supporters were required to support their second choice.
Being from Oregon, I’ve never been actively involved in an actual nomination process before, much less a caucus. Seeing the Clinton and Obama campaigns try to move voters from one side to the other at the last minute was impressive. Clinton’s volunteers making sure that everyone knew they’d paid the bill for lunch felt a bit like a high school class president election tactic but a good move anyhow.
The after party was notable as well. Instead of a small room of people mourning a loss, there was a large room (okay, bar) full of energized staffers and volunteers, ready to move on to South Carolina or the February 5th states. To all of his staffers and those of the other two campaigns, I wish you the best in the coming weeks. As for me, it’s happily back to business as usual.