Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

November 3, 2012

Parties work to get out the vote

Volunteers encourage others to participate on election day

Carrie Stambaugh
The Independent

ASHLAND — It is crunch time before Tuesday’s election and both parties are making their last pitch to undecided voters and the party faithful to get to the polls.  

The Republican and Democratic parties in Boyd County both have had a presence in Ashland over the last several months with volunteers staffing offices. Both offices are hubs of activities on Friday.

The Republican Party Headquarters on Winchester Avenue was as busy as it has ever been on Friday afternoon since it opened in May. About a dozen volunteers were selling signs to Romney supporters that dropped by and were engaging in lively debate.

The office may close its doors over the weekend, or not, said Boyd County Republican Chair John Mayhew. “The voters have pretty well decided who they are going to vote for,” he said. Mayhew said his office has focused on educating voters, handing out party platforms and discussing the issues. “I would just like people to know this is probably the most important election they will vote on because of the economy,” said Mayhew. “If you look at what happened in Greece, it will happen here. We have to get off these entitlements the way that they are,” he said.  

Jean Estep, 53, of Catlettsburg, has been volunteering at the Republican office for the last several months. “I want to support the next president of the United States,” said Estep, noting she has long been engaged in politics, formerly as a Democratic liaison.

Estep said she wanted to be active in this campaign, supporting the Republican ticket because, “I see the Democratic Party out working and we just need to be out and be more vocal, working for the same cause we believe in and trying to spread the word.”

Volunteers will be putting up signs, not only supporting the Romney/Ryan ticket, but a slate of local Republican candidates including  Thomas Massie, Will T. Scott and Tony Downey.

For Estep, the economy is the No. 1 issue. “It’s not Republican or Democrat, it’s the economy,” she said.

“President Obama said if he couldn’t cut the deficit in half in four years, he wouldn’t run again. Apparently he is a liar. Because he is running again. So we need a different change,” said Estep.  

Despite her own view, she encouraged all voters to “vote your heart.”

Estill Mills, 67, another Republican volunteer echoed that sentiment. “Vote your heart. Think about your kids and your grandkids. What kind of country are we going to leave,” he said. “I”m fearful of what we’re leaving.”

The debt, he said, is his No. 1 issue. “No. 2, we have a constitution, and the constitution is not being adhered to. It’s not there,” he added, noting he considers himself a tea party Republican.

 “I think this country is going in the wrong direction and I want to do something to change it,” he said of his activism this cycle.

In addition to volunteering at the headquarters, he has been using social media to campaign. “You get a lot of interesting discussions going on. I find the Democrats to be very, very vitriolic,” he said, “They use a lot of foul language and they attack you personally.”

Mills said the headquarters had its own Facebook page, but it had to be shut down because of the negativity and rhetoric.

Across town at the Democratic headquarters, volunteers were busy making phone calls to registered Democrats and giving out signs.

One of the most dedicated Democratic volunteers is 29-year-old Kathryn Cook. Cook has been at the headquarters three times a week volunteering since it opened in August. On an average day Cook calls about 100 registered Democratic voters on her personal cell phone to encourage them to get out to the polls to vote for President Obama and the Democratic ticket.

She asks voters if they need a ride to the polls and helps them  get information they need to make an informed decision about other local candidates.

Her motivation?

“The GOP is going after women. They are trying to steal our rights, and I have a real problem with men making decisions for women,” she said, “And health care. I believe in ObamaCare.”

“Obama is all about forward, think forward. We don’t have time to think back,” Cook said.

Ron Helton has been making calls to promote the ticket and putting out yard signs for the last month. Helton, 47, said it’s the first time he’s been active in a political campaign.

“This is an important election for the working men and women. It’s critical,” said Helton. “My livlihood is on the line. I’m a union worker and it is clear Romney is not for the union at all. I have to support Obama,” said Helton, who is a member of the Operating Engineers Local 181.

George Tussey, the chairman of the Democratic Party, said the headquarters would be staffed through Tuesday night.

“We want to make sure people get out to vote,” said Tussey. “I feel like he (Obama) is going to win the nation, and I feel the county is going to go for him this time. This time, he is showing that he has leadership,” he added.  

CARRIE STAMBAUGH can be reached at cstambaugh@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2653.