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No time off for Virginia campaign volunteers in what was supposed to be an ‘off-off election’

Posted at 3:38 PM, Oct 24, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-24 15:38:47-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- Every November brings an election in Virginia. With less than two weeks to Election Day, campaigns are kicking into high gear. But no run for office would be successful without a great team of volunteers.

"All politics is local, so I'm starting at the local level to do my best," Gerri Snyder, a Democratic campaign volunteer, said.

"It's a wonderful time to volunteer!" Marcheta Laine, a Republican campaign volunteer, added. "This is an exciting time. This is an important election."

Volunteers spend their time knocking on doors and writing letters and postcards to potential voter.

"Everybody I've talked to hopefully sees the energy and excitement I have about it," Rich Taylor a Democratic campaign volunteer, said. "The what's going on, the issues, that that's enough to motivate them to join us as well."

Richmond GOP Chairman Leon Benjamin said meeting voters face-to-face can make a big difference.

"Of course the candidates face is the best face, but if they can just see a face that says 'Here this is a person that we think you should take a look at, this is what he stands for, here's some literature,' and ask for the vote. We always have to ask for the vote," Benjamin said.

With all 140 Virginia State House and Senate seats on the ballot in an election that has no presidential or statewide race this is what`s considered to be an "off-off year."

But don't tell that to the candidates like Ghazala Hashmi, Democratic candidate for Senate District 10.

"It really doesn't feel like an off-off year," she said. "We know how critical this particular race is in this campaign year of 2019."

Democratic candidate Larry Barnett, who is running for the 27th House District agreed.

"I've come to see that in theses off-off years, they really have an out-sized impact on the lives of the people in this community because it is a local election. They'll be people representing them," he said.

So for those running, having a staff that can help drive turnout is key.

"Our volunteers started coming out in the spring, so that was really nice! We had them consistently throughout the summer. For example, if you're going to do 10,000 volunteer postcards, you can't start that three weeks out," Virginia House Speaker Kirk Cox said.

Amanda Pohl, Democratic candidate for Senate District 11, said had to add staff to help her campaign.

"For this Senate district, this is the first time that we actually had paid organizers across the district, so we're really excited about that. But it's not just about the paid staff, it's about the entire momentum that's been building," she said.