When I registered my political action committee in April, doing so gave me access to the list of registered voters in my district – all 41,000 of them. Of that, some 14,500 are registered Democrats who have a track record of voting in primary elections. In Chicago, after all, winning the Democratic primary is the way to win the general election.
At the same time I began searching for a campaign manager (someone I have yet to find by the way). I networked from friendly adviser to friendly adviser and by doing so gained lots of information. One bit of advice was to contact the State Democratic Party for access to a web-based program called Vote Builder.
Commissioned by the National Democratic Party it is an online program that integrates voter registration and demographic information by the candidate’s district, allowing one to search for specific types of voters and to both plan and track voter contacts. It is extremely useful for planning, as an example, the best way to walk through a precinct, record who has been contacted, note their support or lack thereof, etc. It prints out all kinds of to do lists, mailing labels, and phone lists so that one can make effective use of one’s volunteers.
Perhaps you can see why I have spent more than six weeks trying to get access to this tool. As the story goes, the State Democratic party didn’t want to use it, so the state council of County Democratic organizations took the responsibility to distribute it. Unfortunately, Cook County Democrats aren’t very active with the council (or so I am told).
I spent a month trying to track down the executive who collects the money ($500 in my case) to use it and gives out the password to access it. I finally had to contact the manufacturer who then forwarded my email to him. That response informed me that the Cook County chair was the man to contact. His office said that they (and later he) had no idea what I was talking about.
So I had to give them the phone number to contact in Springfield and the Springfield office had to send information on the program to Cook County.
One of the memorable parts of the David and Goliath story is that David had a sling shot. In my case, Vote Builder is a kind of sling shot. After all, rumor has it that my opponent’s (Deb Mell) father (Richard Mell) has 1,500 precinct workers at his disposal.
At present I have two. There are 63 precincts in my district with, as I noted, some 14,500 registered Democrats who regularly vote in the primary I have to win. Not only do I have to work harder but I have to work smarter. I’m sure the saga of Vote Builder will continue. At present it remains elusive and an illustration of how hard it is to change the status quo.
Of course, that won’t stop me from trying.
Wednesday night I met with members of the Villa Improvement League in another step in networking, introducing myself, and moving toward success. It was a beautiful night and the Villa folks had a good turnout. I gave a short introduction of myself. This is the kind of progress I like.
Now I'm off to the airport for my trip to Cleveland and 4 days of candidate training.