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State GOP and Dems push vote via phone


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POSTED: Sunday, November 02, 2008

Calls for peace, prosperity and new politics are now set aside. The only job left is to pick up the phone and punch in the numbers.

 

"[Preview]"    Republicans & Democrats Campaign For Seats  
  "[Preview]"
 

Republicans and Democrats went out into the community today to encourage people to vote for people campaigning for the Hawaii State Legislature.

 

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"In

 

  The Republicans are on Queen Street making calls. A few blocks away on Auahi Street, Democrats are dialing Dems.

 

In the closing days of a major political campaign, the battle is fought by field soldiers calling carefully selected lists of possible sympathetic supporters to make sure they vote.

Adam Deguire, local GOP executive director, explains the calls are going out today and will continue through Tuesday's general election. They will go to voters identified by the state and national Republican party.

"We have spent a lot of time ID-ing our voters and finding out who is most likely to support us," Deguire said. He adds that identifying someone who doesn't support the GOP is almost as valuable, because then volunteers will know not to waste time on the unfriendly.

At the Obama for President headquarters in Ward Warehouse, state coordinator Andy Winer reports, volunteers have made 50,000 calls since September. This weekend, he plans another 15,000 get-out-the-vote calls.

"It is getting more and more positive; we are getting good results," said Winer, a veteran of past local campaigns.

In September, Hawaii Democrats called Nevada voters urging them to register and then vote early for Democrat Barack Obama. The volunteers had a list of names culled from Nevada voter registration files.

Winer said at first they used lists with both Polynesian and Asian names, but then found they were more likely to connect to a former Hawaii resident with the Polynesian names. They also had some voter lists that tallied former voting registrations, so if the person had previously voted in Hawaii, they got a call.

Now the Democrats are shifting to calling Hawaii voters. Volunteers are given lists by district so that besides urging an Obama vote, they remind voters to support the local Democrat running for the state House and Senate.

In comparison, two years ago, Republican Gov. Linda Lingle owned the get-out-the-vote campaign by marshaling hundreds of volunteers armed with cell phones. They took over the entire second floor of Iwilei's Dole Ballroom to make calls to likely voters to help Lingle win.

This year, both Republicans and Democrats are paying attention to the so-called "down-ballot races" - contests below the presidential race.

Both parties are hoping that their candidate, either Sen. John McCain or Obama, will bring out voters and lure them to vote for fellow Republicans or Democrats.

Deguire said they are hoping to win on Oahu's North Shore by beating Democratic incumbent Rep. Mike Magaoay (D, Schofield-Kahuku) with GOP candidate Gil Riviere.

At the same time, Democrats are eyeing the Windward seat held by Rep. Colleen Meyer (R, Laie-Kahaluu) and trying to help their candidate, attorney Jessica Wooley.

Also expected to add interest to this year's election is the decision by voters on whether to hold a state constitutional convention.

Opponents were fueled by more than $570,000 from the National Educational Association, a national labor organization that has opposed changes to state constitutions across the country.

Those in favor of a convention have found themselves outspent and out-organized by the Hawaii labor organizations who say changes are not needed. The proponents found an ally in Lt. Gov. James "Duke" Aiona, who turned over much of his speaking schedule to pro-convention pitches, but supporters such as Rep. Della Au Belatti (D, Makiki) said it has been difficult to fight the big donations from the mainland.