Campaign 2010

Jun 16, 2004

Grass Roots, Baby

The Hill:

Out-of-state Republican campaigners were a negligible presence in South Dakota’s recent special election, according to the executive director of that state’s Republican Party, and they were outdone by their Democratic counterparts.

“Democrats have always been good about getting the vote turned out,” said Jason Glodt, executive director of South Dakota’s Republican Party. National Republicans, in contrast, represented about “5 percent” of the total campaign volunteers in his state, he said. “In the special, [the Democrats] relied on a lot of out-of-state bodies.”

Despite a wave of press reports about grassroots campaigning by national Republicans, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) recruited more out-of-state volunteers in South Dakota’s recent special election and expects a big voter outreach effort in November.

Overall, the DCCC flew 400 volunteers — most of whom were Hill staffers — to South Dakota on three chartered planes and bused in an additional 450 from 13 surrounding states, including Oklahoma, Illinois and Wisconsin.

“The DCCC played a vital role,” said Jason Schulte, executive director of South Dakota’s Democratic Party. “Getting out the vote was essential for us to win.”


The groups worked 15 to 18 hours a day for four days straight, according to DCCC Executive Director John Bonham, which equals more than 50,000 man-hours.

Bonham said the cost of the push was “a big chunk” of the $2 million that the DCCC spent in the race but added that it amounted to less than a week of television time.

He declined to distinguish one as more important than the other.

“If you’re going to commit to do field, you’ve got to commit to do field,” Bonham said of the Republicans’ outreach efforts. “We knew in early April that we needed to do this.”

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