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Chapter Helps Propel Obama and Kratovil to Victory
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by Betsy Johnson | 2008

The euphoria lingers! On election night, standing in a crowd of Obama volunteers, I felt a sense of elation that I haven’t felt since high school, long ago and far away. This time, I’d been involved for five months in trying to help an intelligent and talented man be elected to the presidency. Our long nightmare with the Bush administration was almost over

The euphoria lingers! On election night, standing in a crowd of Obama volunteers, I felt a sense of elation that I haven’t felt since high school, long ago and far away. This time, I’d been involved for five months in trying to help an intelligent and talented man be elected to the presidency. Our long nightmare with the Bush administration was almost over.

The Maryland Chapter had two priorities for the 2008 election: Barack Obama and Frank Kratovil, Democratic congressional candidate in Maryland District 1. We had hundreds of volunteers activated to participate in these campaigns.

Political chairs Jan Graham (Eastern Shore), Janet Schollenberger (Baltimore), David Prosten (Anne Arundel); summer intern student Matt Dernoga; and Chapter conservation coordinator Alana Wase joined efforts to activate Sierrans to volunteer for Kratovil. Even though no one gave him a chance when he started his campaign, Kratovil squeaked out a narrow victory. The Sierra Club, active from the start when few thought he had a chance, made a huge difference in that race. Matt Dernoga’s vivid reminiscences about the campaign appear on page 1.

Because the Maryland Chapter abuts two important swing states—Virginia and Pennsylvania—we signed up with the Sierra Club “Road to Victory” campaign and “adopted” both, working to activate Sierra Club volunteers in those states. Bob Burchard headed up the Pennsylvania outreach, while I concentrated on Virginia. Maryland volunteers made numerous phone calls to Sierra Club members in both states. We found lots of Sierrans who were already involved, and we got lots more to volunteer. The enthusiasm for Obama was palpable.

Then there were the canvassers we launched from the Obama office in Bethesda, Maryland. Starting in July, a team of volunteers with whom I worked organized people to go on the weekends to Virginia. There we registered voters, performed voter identification, and ultimately helped get out the vote for Obama. So many people volunteered (many for the first time ever, and many who were Sierra Club members) that we started launching the canvasses from an outdoor location at Bethesda Chevy Chase High School. We were sending 500 to 600 volunteers per weekend; many traveled as far as Richmond to do this important work! With this kind of passionate interest all across the country, it’s no wonder that Obama won so handily.

So, to all the members of the Maryland Chapter who stepped up to help these candidates win their races, thank you. Thank you for your dedication, your time, and your enthusiastic efforts. And I hope you feel the euphoria that I feel at having been involved in making this historic election happen.   n

 

Betsy Johnson is the political chair of the Maryland Chapter.

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