Marylanders Take Presidential Campaign to Neighboring
By Ryan Spass
Capital News Service
Friday, Oct. 29, 2004
POTTSTOWN, Pa. - A middle-aged man met them
at the door.
"Get off my steps!" the man screamed. "Democrat is a dirty word in this
Fortunately, for the 75 Montgomery County, Md., Democrats conducting
last-minute voter canvassing in Montgomery County, Pa., that wasn't the
typical response to their knocks at voters' doors.
Better than 60 percent of Pottstown -- located between Allentown, Pa.,
and Philadelphia -- voted Democratic in 2000, which is why Maryland Delegate
Anne R. Kaiser, D-Montgomery, and Art Brodsky were surprised at the man's
response at their final stop of the day.
"The whole purpose of this thing is to get the people that are with you
to get out and vote," said Brodsky.
Because Kerry holds a double-digit lead in Maryland, state Democrats are
campaigning feverishly for Kerry in highly contested states. The Pottstown
campaign is one of numerous efforts by Maryland Democrats to promote their
party's candidates in swing states like Ohio, West Virginia and
"We wanted to go where we can make a difference - to help in key
battleground states if we're not going to be a battleground state," said Don
Mooers of the Maryland Democratic Party.
The Maryland group was ready for battle, organized and fit: They came by
car and bus, and then the local Democratic headquarters provided each
two- to four-person group with a list of residents and a chart to mark who
they planned to vote for.
Kaiser and Brodsky had 65 voters, most living in connected, one-story
townhouses. They could move quickly from house to house.
Few homes had grassy front yards, so political signs were few.
However, that didn't mean Pottstown residents were apathetic.
One woman said she was voting for Kerry because her son was headed to
Iraq. Another man said Bush should have been impeached because of how he
handled the war.
All those on Kaiser and Brodsky's voter list were registered Democrats,
so strictly positive reactions were expected and received.
But one of their voters was undecided, so Kaiser jumped at the chance to
grab support for Kerry.
"What issues concern you?" Kaiser asked, but the woman declined to
comment and politely shut the door.
Kaiser observed that many of the houses had religious signs and figurines
displayed and noted that Pottstown is a "religious, but seemingly Democratic
A few Pottstown residents were surprised Marylanders were campaigning in
Pennsylvania, until Kaiser and Brodsky explained Pennsylvania's significance
in the presidential election.
Democrat Al Gore won Pennsylvania by 4 percentage points in 2000, and
Kerry holds a slight lead there this time around.
Pennsylvania has 21 electoral votes.
Maryland Democrats have campaigned in Pennsylvania on all but one weekend
since Sept. 12, Mooers said.
Maryland Republicans have also campaigned in other states, but none of
those trips were organized by the Maryland Republican Party, said Deborah
Martinez, Maryland Republican Party communications director.
She said the state's Republicans are focusing their attention on Maryland
Kaiser said she doesn't remember the same interstate campaign effort
occurring four years ago.
"People now know that these races can be decided by a few hundred votes,"
Kaiser said, "and sending 100 people to Ohio, Pennsylvania and West
Virginia, each knocking on a number of doors - it can really make a
difference. . . . Nothing beats the personal touch."
2004 University of Maryland Philip Merrill College of
Top of Page | Home Page