Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Local presidential campaign volunteers are ramping up support

BROOKSVILLE

Debbie Satter scanned her list and punched in a phone number.

"We're just calling to see if Mitt can count on your vote," Satter said, then listened for a moment. "Wonderful! Make sure you send in that ballot. We appreciate your support. Go Mitt!"

As Satter worked the phone, a couple of other volunteers filed out of the Romney Victory Office on Landover Boulevard for a door-knocking spree.

A similar scene is playing out 4 miles to the north, where President Barack Obama's camp is set up between a title company and a clothing boutique in a Mariner Boulevard shopping plaza.

With early voting just days away, both campaigns are ramping up efforts in Hernando County, dialing phones and punching doorbells in a frenzied homestretch effort. By now, relatively few minds are left unmade, so the mission for both sides has shifted.

"G-O-T-V," is how 63-year-old Obama volunteer Carole Smith puts it. "Get out the vote."

That's going to be key if the president hopes to win Hernando, a county where registered Republicans outnumber Democrats by about 4,000, and many of the 29,000 no party voters lean toward the GOP.

Turnout was a big factor in 2008, when Obama lost to John McCain by more than 3,100 votes. Of the 10 precincts with the lowest turnout in the county that year, eight had a majority of registered Democrats.

So-called neighborhood team leaders like Smith are seeking to improve that statistic this time around.

The Obama strategy hinges on the team leaders, who organize informal satellite offices in their own neighborhoods.

Smith, a 63-year-old retired Verizon clerk, offered her home for volunteers to make phone calls and launch canvassing efforts in heavily Democratic precincts like south Brooksville. During phone bank sessions, volunteers call voters from Smith's living room or lanai.

Smith said she's motivated to give the president time to continue his agenda as an alternative to a Republican Party that has offered few solutions.

"It's so important to stay on track," she said. "The Republicans don't have anything."

Carol Nugue, a 64-year-old retired supervisor for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, offered her home in Seven Hills as a staging area and phone bank.

"It's an incredible feeling, what we're doing, and I'm sorry I didn't do it four years ago," Nugue said.

Isa Simmons, 20, of Spring Hill, said he is inspired to be active, just as Obama was as a younger man.

"I see myself in him," Simmons said.

Simmons, who is currently looking for work, also wants to see the Affordable Care Act — what even the president now calls Obamacare — remain intact. Simmons suffers from Crohn's disease, so the provision that allows children to stay on their parents' health insurance policy is a big help.

The Romney campaign is leasing space in the headquarters of Hernando Republican Executive Committee Chairman Blaise Ingoglia's homebuilding business.

More than 220 volunteers have signed up to help since July, said field director Chris Steinke, They've knocked on about 20,000 doors in Hernando County, logged thousands of calls to voters in Florida, and distributed more than 3,500 signs, Steinke said.

On the weekdays, retirees make up most of the force. The numbers swell on the weekends with 9-to-5ers and college students.

Some people show up nearly every day.

"The intensity and enthusiasm of the volunteers has definitely picked up," Steinke said.

Satter is a regular, volunteering a few hours every day. The Spring Hill resident showed up Wednesday — her 58th birthday — to make calls.

"I think this is the most important election of our time, and I'm hearing this constantly on the phone," she said.

The media isn't fairly and fully reporting on the Romney ticket's stances and plans, Satter said.

On a nearby white board are some talking points and statistics for volunteers to offer people on the other end of line: the number of food stamp recipients is increasing along with the nation's debt, the board states, as the median income falls.

"A lot of times we're the only ones who can get to the people to report the other side," Satter said.

Next to the white board, someone taped an editorial cartoon featuring Bert and Ernie from Sesame Street. "Don't tell Big Bird," Bert says, "but I'm actually thinking about voting for Mitt Romney."

Al Beamud, 66, spends so much time at the office that his wife tells him he might have to set up a bed there.

The retired New York City transit authority worker spent 20 years in the U.S. Navy and worries about cuts to the military and the deficit.

"I was a union man for 44 years. Back then it was a necessary evil," he said. "Now they're bankrupting this country."

Volunteers at both offices agreed on at least one thing: The rewards from getting involved transcend politics.

"You open your eyes to your community," Simmons said.

Tony Marrero can be reached at tmarrero@tampabay.com or (352) 848-1431.

. To learn more

Presidential campaign offices

Obama for America

5170 Mariner Blvd., Spring Hill

Call: Nicole Uva, (727) 421-4342

Romney/Ryan Victory Office

2939 Landover Blvd., Spring Hill

Call: (352) 796-4741

Local presidential campaign volunteers are ramping up support 10/26/12 [Last modified: Tuesday, October 30, 2012 2:43pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Review: Arcade Fire open hearts, play with passion at the USF Sun Dome in Tampa

    Blogs

    Gloves off, hearts open and disco balls glittering, Arcade Fire scaled the stage for the first time ever in Tampa, pouncing and flailing and performing with all the passion that’s made them one of the world’s most celebrated rock bands this century.

    Arcade Fire performed at the USF Sun Dome in Tampa on Sept. 22, 2017.
  2. Lightning's Steven Stamkos looks close to top form in first game since November

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — The wait felt like forever for Lightning captain Steven Stamkos, having gone 10 months without playing in a game.

    A scramble in front of the Lightning goal has Matthew Peca, far left, and Erik Cernak, middle, helping out goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy during the third period of a 3-1 win against the Predators. Vasilevskiy, who made 29 saves, was “exceptional,” coach Jon Cooper says.
  3. Rays journal: Alex Cobb may have pitched last game in Rays uniform (w/video)

    The Heater

    BALTIMORE — RHP Alex Cobb pitched well enough to lead the Rays to an 8-3 win over the Orioles on Friday.

    Wilson Ramos gives thanks after hitting a grand slam during the second inning, putting the Rays up 4-0.
  4. Steven Souza Jr. vindicating big trade for Rays

    The Heater

    BALTIMORE — There was a time when the three-team, 11-player transaction the Rays orchestrated to get Steven Souza Jr. from the Nationals looked liked a bad deal.

    The Rays’ Steven Souza Jr. has 30 home runs this season while improving his defense and baserunning but wants to improve on his .236 batting average.
  5. Fennelly: Lightning's Manon Rheaume made history 25 years ago Saturday

    Lightning Strikes

    The name is part of Lightning history, hockey history, sports history.

    Lightning goalie Manon Rheaume became the first woman to play in an NHL game 25 years ago today.