While there has been much focus on Republican Kevin Faulconer’s convincing victory in deep-blue San Diego’s mayor’s race, the analysis hasn’t included what those of us in San Diego know to be a key factor in the win: a dedicated group of young GOP operatives, many who volunteer their time each election to build one of the most impressive GOTV operations in California.
And it is truly inspiring to see them spring to action to build their operation each election. What makes it so impressive is that after working together for so many cycles, they come together, both volunteers and paid staff, to fulfill their role in building and executing the program. Some of them even travel from other states to play their role and they are now so experienced in doing it, that each cycle it gets better.
Queues of volunteers show up and are methodically put through training, supplied with materials, and deployed to their precincts with a precision I rarely see on a campaign. Each campaign has the ambition to do it, but often not the resources, whether financial or personnel. This operation had both, and I experienced first-hand the efficiency of the program by walking precincts myself.
When I arrived, a couple hundred volunteers were there with bagels and coffee, followed by a rally held by Kevin Faulconer and elected officials from around the state. After all the volunteers were thanked for their hard work and dedication, we were grouped together by staff and get in the queue to get trained and pick up our packets.
We grabbed our packet and went direct to the polling location to check off all the voters who have already voted and then start knocking-and-dragging those targeted voters who had not yet voted. After a once-through, we went back to the poll to do another check-off then returned to the headquarters. From that point, if there is still time, our packets get refilled with new door hangers and get sent out with another volunteer. If there is not enough time, the packets go to the phone banks and those voters who haven’t voted get a volunteer phone call and/or text message reminding them to vote.
There are a lot of takeaways from this victory but one important one for party leaders statewide is to build this kind of operation so that if the campaigns do their job making the sale, our ground troops are organized enough to turn out the vote.
San Diego GOP chairman Tony Krvaric deserves special praise for his efforts as do these young leaders who make it work. James Hauser the Deputy Campaign Manager was in charge of all campaign ground operations. Sara Kamiab the GOTV Director was in charge of the operations and logistics through Election Day. Julianna Chick, GOP Executive Director, was in charge of party operations as well as overseeing the recruiting by Elisa Forcey and Jordan Gurnett. And most importantly, I commend the crew of San Diego campaigners who volunteered countless hours of their time to help make sure the ground operations ran successfully: Francis Barraza, Matthew Donnellan, Cassandra Weinlein, Lx Fangonilo, John Ly, Jack Straw, and Diane Peabody.