The Dems Return to Virginia

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Election season means another Columbia Democrats campaign trip, and this year, they are returning to the Old Dominion (aka “Virginia”) to campaign for gubernatorial candidate Creigh Deeds. Sean Quirk sends us the first of two dispatches from the trail. 

It’s 11 A.M. on a blistering, rainy Sunday morning as Columbia Democratic foot soldiers get a pep talk under Quality Inn’s dark green awning.  “’Change we can believe in’ was not just a slogan,” Jonathan Backer yells to his fellow Columbia Democrats.  “Change cannot come with one candidate.”

Fall break is no break for the Columbia University College Democrats.  The year’s annual campaign trip brought over 40 Columbia University students to marvelous Manassas, Virginia—home of the first major battle of the Civil War and Barack Obama’s last major speech of the 2008 presidential campaign. The Columbia Democrats were also here in Manassas last year to witness that speech after working in McLean, Virginia, to get out the vote for Obama. But this is not 2008, and Barack Obama is unfortunately not a candidate this time around.  The fight is now for the governorship, a far tougher prospect.

“Hi, my name is Sarah, and I’m a volunteer with the Creigh Deeds campaign,” says the Columbia Dem as a middle-aged man in a bathrobe opens the door.  “I just wanted to remind you to vote and find out if you will be supporting Deeds this Tuesday in the governor’s race.” He responds, “Deeds who?”  

Creigh (pronounced “Cree”) Deeds’ fight for the governorship is an uphill battle in Virginia’s post-Obama climate. His opponent, Bob McDonnell, is perhaps best known outside the start for a thesis he wrote in college about the danger of working women, homosexuality, and abortions to America, all stances that make motivating the Columbia troops a little bit easier.  But Obama’s apparent inability to single-handedly save the world in 10 months has diminished the high hopes many Virginians had for the President when the majority of the state voted for him last year.  Deeds must persuade Virginians to believe in the Democratic Party once again.

That day’s campaigning began at 10 A.M., as Columbia Democrats’ lead activists ran around the motel waking up students.  We gathered in the motel’s “dining room,” i.e., small eating closet, for “bagels,” i.e., holed supermarket bread.  After Jonathan’s pep talk, we were in three 15-person vans driving off from the Quality Inn towards our assigned locations. Then we picked up our canvass lists, suppressed our elitist urban personas, and began the neighborhood invasions. My fellow carpetbaggers and I knocked on thousands of doors to encourage likely Democrats to vote for Deeds, returning late in the day exhausted, but a little more hopeful.

Whether Deeds can pull it out, though, remains to be seen. Inside Virginia, the verdict on McDonnell is a little less defined, as most voters seem to be focusing on economic rather than social policy.  Indeed, forty-eight percent of Northern Virginians believe transportation is the most important issue facing the area, a D.C. metropolitan region with constant congestion issues. And Deeds is polling far behind McDonnell as we struggle to make previous Obama fanatics understand the importance of Tuesday’s election. Nevertheless, the Columbia Democrats left our ivory tower to come down south and defend the ground Democrats have gained in the last decade.  And we won’t be leaving without a fight.

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  1. typo  

    outside the start? I think you mean state.

  2. Deeds  

    supports a ban on semi-auto firearms. What an idiot!!!
    He'll never win Virginia. How about you poor babies come back from eating stale bagels and the rain and leave Virginia to Virginians.
    And abortion and homosexuality are disgusting.

    • hey  

      they've got a great old university in lynchburg, va that'd be right up your alley bud ... no gays, no abortion.... and definitely no evolution:

      As the commenter before me stated, even if you don't agree with the dems' politics, I respect any group of college kids willing to give up a 5-day weekend to word towards what they believe are positive political changes

    • a homosexual

      well aren't you the sweetest little thing? southern charm at its best.

    • Northern virginian  

      I don't think you are in touch with the Virginia of today, buddy. The past two governors have been Democrats, we have 2 Democrat senators, and we went for Obama last year. McDonnel will only win because Deeds isn't a very energizing candidate in liberal northern va. The scarier prospect of this election is Ken Cucinelli riding on McDonnel's coattails into office as Attorney General--that man is downright frightening.

  3. Looks like  

    Manassas is about 13% black and 25.6% Latino.
    I wonder who these ignorant "Obama fanatics" are and why they voted for him.

    • looks like

      The U.S. as a whole is 13.4% black, so what's your point?

      Maybe some people voted for Obama based on race, maybe some people voted against Obama based on race. It's not like black candidates have a whole hell of a lot of success in general so it's ignorant to say that's the story of his success.

      If you want less ignorance, support better education (in both inner cities and rural areas).

  4. dems

    At least the dems are doing more with their fall break than most students at this school. They are down in Virginia working hard for something that they believe in. That is more than most people here can say.

    Go Dems!!! Keep up the hard work!!!

  5. thought  

    Believing in anything a political party stands for is the antithesis of what Columbia education is all about. Think for yourself.

  6. deeds

    not such a gay-friendly candidate himself. but of course he's the democrat

  7. davan  

    stephen davan is the cutest thing on this campus.

  8. If you  

    think semi auto weapons should be banned you are a fool. Doesn't matter now though since you lost.

  9. LOL

    It doesn't matter if a Dem or Rep wins in VA. The winning candidate will be moderate. VA is one of the most moderate states in the union.

    And Republicans and Democrats...there is no difference between the two.

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