A good pair of walking shoes, a ready smile and comfort in engaging with strangers are skills that come in handy when you’re a political canvasser – a political foot soldier who goes door to door drumming up support for a candidate.
“I love meeting my neighbors. It’s fun to meet people, tell them about the candidates and encourage them to vote,” said Pat Reilly, who was one of about a dozen canvassers heading out from the Fauquier County Democratic Committee’s campaign headquarters on Saturday.
The committee opened an office in the Warrenton Village Shopping Center on West Lee Highway to use as a base of operations until the Nov. 5 election.
“It’s critical to vote. There’s so much at stake,” said Reilly, of Marshall. “I wonder how many people realize there’s an election this year.”
“I like to engage my neighbors and explain how important it is to vote,” said Jeff Millington. “We live in Upperville and we’ve met people we haven’t met before” as they go from house to house. He canvasses neighborhoods with his wife.
“It’s great to meet people who agree with you -- and those who don’t agree with you,” said Millington.
Miriam Anver of Rectortown came to Saturday’s campaign office opening before going out to rally support for the Democratic ticket.
“I did it during the last election. I did it for Leslie Cockburn,” said Anver. Cockburn was the Democratic Party’s candidate for the 5th District seat in Congress in 2018. She lost to Republican Denver Riggleman.
Anver said passage of the Equal Rights Amendment, affordable health care and protection of the environment are issues important to her. She’s supporting Democratic candidates because “we’ve got to get the representation we need.”
Anver and the other canvassers were welcomed to the new office by Del. Elizabeth Guzman, D-31st; Ronnie Ross (running for state senator in the 27th District); Max Hall (political director for Laura Galante); Michael Hammond (running for the Scott District seat on the Fauquier County School Board); Rachel Bongiovi (running for the Center District school board seat); and Larry Jackson (co-chair of the Fauquier Democratic Committee).
“Strap on your seat belts, there are only three months to go” before Election Day, said Hall, representing Galante, who’s running for the 18th District House of Delegates seat now held by Republican Michael Webert.
“We have to reach 60,000 people. This is crunch time,” said Ross, who’s running to unseat Republican Jill Vogel in the state Senate. The district covers all of Fauquier, Clarke and Frederick counties and Winchester City, as well as parts of Loudoun, Culpeper and Stafford counties.
Guzman said this year the party “has exciting candidates up and down the ballot. This is not the norm. Two years ago, people said ‘Yay, we have a candidate.’ It was exciting to flip the district for the first time in 26 years.”
Guzman said this year the party has an opportunity to win a majority of the seats in the House of Delegates and state Senate. The Republican Party currently holds a two-member majority in both chambers.
With a majority, the Democrats could pass measures Guzman cited as important -- an increase in the minimum wage, a reduction in carbon emissions and passage of the Equal Rights Amendment.
Guzman is seeking re-election this year in the Virginia House representing the 31st District, which includes parts of Fauquier and Prince William counties.
Reach James Ivancic at firstname.lastname@example.org