Local offices get ready for elections
Pallavi Agarwal | Highlands TodaySEBRING - The year George W. Bush defeated Al Gore in the presidential election was a notable milestone in Mille Grime's life.
Published: September 12, 2012
Published: September 12, 2012
She turned Democrat.
As the country heads into another watershed presidential election, Grime is one of many local volunteers – across party lines – pulling out the stops for their candidates.
Grime volunteers every other week at the Highlands County Democratic Party headquarters. She answers the phones, helps register people, organizes fundraisers for candidates and even held a house party.
This year they also did something new - got voters to register by mail. They even installed a road sign that reads: "Save Medicare Vote Obama."
"People are very, very enthused," she said. "They are very concerned about Medicare and it being taken away."
Over at the local Republican Party headquarters, chairman Andy Tuck is also pleased at what he said was a record number of people wanting to help.
His reason for that: the president himself.
"To think that we are going to have four more years of Barack Obama is a scary thought," Tuck maintained. "We are very scared of this president."
Recently, they were able to move into a bigger party office, Tuck said, because "there is so much interest."
Now, Gracie Simmons and Jan Grove, who were helping out Tuesday at the party office, belong to a faithful cadre of Republicans who volunteer several hours a week, and have for years.
Grove, whose ancestors came to America in the 1630s, helps out because "my country is my country" and she doesn't like the direction it's taking.
Simmons wants to preserve the United States that she knows and loves for her grand kids.
"The military is not acknowledged or supported" anymore, she complained. "Now they are taking God out of the country."
For Democrat Dave McCarthy, who is also the local party's volunteer coordinator, what's also noteworthy about this year's election year is the "record" number of Democrats running for local office.
McCarthy said they hold fundraisers and candidate forums for the public to meet those running for office, hand out their yard signs and answer questions.
In bigger markets, TV ads are big. In Highlands County, yard signs are important, Grove said.
Local Republican Party workers got so many requests for Romney-Ryan yard signs, they designed their own.
"This is a small area," Grove added. "People want yard signs."
While school board, county and state office races are important locally, Tuck said their primary priority is the presidential race.
"Without a doubt," he added. "That's always been the case."
By the time the general election rolls around Nov. 6, Tuck is hoping local Republican Party workers personally touch base with all of the county's 27,000 registered Republicans, and hopefully the independents, who are widely expected to decide the winner.
The voter list is something the Democrats closely follow as well.
"We have the ability to locate registered Democrats and we go to them," said McCarthy.
Lately, he's been encountering many Republicans wanting to switch parties, he said. But McCarthy maintained that he doesn't "proselytize" since people have made up their mind.
He'll answer any question you have and even though he's been yelled at, he doesn't ever yell back, he said laughingly.
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