Earlier tonight, I joined in on a conference call of fellow volunteers for the Malik Rahim for Congress campaign across the nation. I live in Pennsylvania, but a new technology has been designed to allow people to participate in a phone bank from their house. As long as you have email and internet and a phone, you can do it (and you can sign up at Green Change). About 90 people joined in and passionately called New Orleans voters afterward. They spanned from Los Angeles residents to citizens of Maine.
2004 Green Party presidential candidate David Cobb started the call off. He was very excited about the campaign and said that in this race “conditions have never been more ripe” to get a Green Party member into Congress. If this happened, he continued, “this would be bigger than anything we’ve ever done.”
Next up was Robert Caldwell, Malik Rahim’s campaign manager. He started off by saying the campaign “is in high gear,” with over one thousand yard signs being placed, radio ads running on four stations (one black talk radio station and three music stations), and over 20,000 pieces of literature having been distributed already. He did say, though, that he would have liked to distribute ten times that amount. He also complained about the coverage that the Times-Picayaune has given Rahim, calling it “shoddy” and meant to “marginalize” the candidate.
The final speaker was Hugh Esco, who designed the program used to guide volunteers through making the calls. He mentioned that this was the first time it was being used in the US and that the first time it was ever used was for Elizabeth May in Canada, who ran a very close race as the Canadian Green Party’s masthead. He was hopeful that by Saturday – when the election is being held – volunteers could place at least 2,000 additional calls. He added that “live human conversations…with human beings can make a difference” and called the campaign “winnable.”
Before questions were taken, two aspects of the campaign were reviewed. First, the targeting of the phone calls. Various zip codes were targeted that include precincts which Rahim hopes to win. They are heavily African American and Malik has been a presence in them for at least part of his life, whether it is through growing up there or organizing Common Ground, which brought over 13,000 volunteers to New Orleans after Katrina. Secondly, the organizer of the call pointed out that donations can still be made to the campaign. “Every dollar counts,” she said, and “22 dollars buys a TV ad.” She also concluded that, “We will report to you on Saturday night via email how the election returns are going.”