November 1, 2004

The Little People: A Day in the Life of a Campaign Scrub

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“I haven’t seen the guy I live with in probably two weeks,” said Marc Zawel ’04, former managing editor of The Sun and a campaign worker for Kerry/Edwards 2004.

“Organized chaos,” was the way Zawel described the Orlando, Fla. headquarters of the Kerry/Edwards campaign, where he is stationed. Zawel emphasized the importance of his particular position in tomorrow’s election.

“I’m in the I-4 Corridor. To our North, we have the Florida Panhandle, which typically goes Republican; to our South is Miami, which usually goes Democratic. This area will likely decide which way Florida goes, and could, basically, decide the next president.”

Zawel comes to work everyday to try and secure that someone new is running the country for the next four years.

Every day, Zawel gets to the office by 8:30 a.m. That is the only constant in his day. About once a week for the last few weeks, the principals — Kerry, Edwards, Bush, and Cheney — have been down in Orlando.

When either Kerry or Edwards visits the area, it is Zawel’s job to help orchestrate transportation for every part of the trip, “from the landing pad at the airport to a fundraiser at TD Waterhouse, to wherever he needs to go after that.”

Celebrities have appeared in the campaign office as well: “I’ve met with Senator Max Cleland, Jesse Jackson Jr. and even Kirsten Dunst — I’ve got to admit, the last one was my favorite.”

Usually, Zawel has a staff meeting at around 9 a.m. to discuss the day’s goals. When Zawel first went down to Florida six weeks ago, the focus was on voter registration.

The morning meeting decided where to send canvassers to distribute literature. Once a neighborhood had been chosen, it was Zawel’s job to assign each of the one hundred or so volunteers to 60 to 70 doors to distribute literature.

In describing the obstacles that arose in this part of the operation, Zawel listed “language barriers,” and “empty homes,” but not unfriendly faces because “the campaign is only knocking on Democratic doors. There’s 40,000 more Democrats registered in this state than there are Republicans. In Florida, the issue is getting people to vote.”

Now that voter registration is over, the focus has shifted to early voting. Since the 2000 election, some states, including Florida, have implemented an early voting policy to allow voters to cast their votes as early as Oct. 18th. Since Oct. 5th, canvassers have been knocking on doors providing information about where to vote and how to vote.

Canvassing ends by about 7:30 p.m., and Zawel compiles the information gathered by the volunteers until the second daily staff meeting at 9 p.m. “At the nine o’clock meeting, we talk about numbers for the day, and then I do miscellaneous processing until about 12:30.”

The workday does not end at 12:30 a.m., however; this is just when planning for the next day begins.

“I usually don’t leave the office ’till about 2 a.m. because I have to plan things out for tomorrow. The days of the week don’t really matter … everyday just sort of turns in to the next one.”

So why do it?

“Well yea, I mean it takes a hit on your lifestyle — some days I don’t eat my first meal until 4 o’clock in the afternoon — but I really believe in what I’m doing and I want to make sure on Nov. 2nd that I’ve given it my all,” Zawel explained.

As for Nov. 3rd, Zawel told The Sun, “I plan to sleep.”

Archived article by Erica Fink
Sun Senior Writer