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“Every Republican staffer on Capitol Hill is going to be in New York 26. Don’t go to the bars anytime this weekend because they will be crowded with khaki pants and blue blazers,” said Davis’ campaign manager, Curtis Ellis.
But the get-out-the-vote operations are no laughing matter. And Ellis said the Davis campaign has “thousands of volunteers in the field” to help drive turnout, even without the support of outside organizations.
It’s unclear, however, how well Davis can mobilize a volunteer force, given that he qualified for the ballot by relying on a signature-gathering firm. And while he will appear on the Tea Party ballot line, local tea party groups are divided over whether to support him. The largest one, backed by the Tea Party Express, is spending much of its time attacking Davis.
On the Democratic side, the Working Families Party is managing a $90,000 ground game, fueled largely by an online fundraising campaign from MoveOn.org, to help Hochul.
“We don’t need to compete dollar for dollar with [Karl] Rove and his corporate backers,” Working Families Party Executive Director Dan Cantor wrote in a recent email to supporters. “But we do need to get as much manpower as we can into the district. Our person-to-person grassroots campaign can beat Rove’s TV commercials any day.”
The state Democratic Party is also coordinating phone banking with volunteers, as opposed to robocalls, and has lent a staffer to help the Hochul campaign. And the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee will have a team of paid staffers on the ground as of today.
“Kathy Hochul’s field program is driven by a large and enthusiastic army of grass-roots supporters in western New York,” DCCC spokesman Josh Schwerin said.
“The DCCC has coordinated with the campaign and is helping with volunteers from N.Y. and D.C., as well as phone banking to combat the growing influence of corporate-backed special interest groups rushing in to save Jane Corwin’s floundering campaign,” he added.
Hochul will also benefit from the influence of organized labor, which has been running a canvassing and phone-banking operation for several days.
Various local labor unions have largely ignored local advertising, deciding instead to invest their resources in pushing union members to the polls to support Hochul.
“On TV, it’s like one ad after another, after another, and it gets to the point where you’re not sure what you’re looking at,” said Dana Alas, who is based in Rochester for Local 1199 of the Service Employee International Union and directs member-to-member work.
Alas’ union has been diverting roughly 10 members to the Hochul campaign each day to help. And she expects to have at least 50 people knocking on doors and talking on the phones this weekend.
She is among the many political observers in New York and across the nation surprised by the tightening of the race.
“We didn’t expect to be this busy, but we are glad that we are,” she said.