Feb. 10, 2016 SIGN IN | REGISTER

K Street Lobbyists Hit the Campaign Trail in Virginia

Kate Ackley/CQ Roll Call
Maureen Walsh and Andy Rosenberg are two of the many K Street lobbyists hitting the campaign trail this fall.

At the first house they visited, a middle-aged woman with accented English said she was undecided. “Honestly, I’m a registered Democrat,” the woman said.

The lobbyists offered their pitch for the Democrats’ agenda on Capitol Hill and the White House: support for Pell grants and women’s health initiatives. And they also lauded Kaine as a governor who slashed budgets. “We think he’s the right choice for Virginia,” Walsh said.

Rosenberg added, “Please vote.”

As they left, the pair jotted down that the target of their pitch was leaning Democratic and leaning toward Obama, Kaine and Connolly. Campaign volunteers will likely follow up with her before Election Day, perhaps with a card on her door reminding her to vote, Rosenberg said.

They crunched their way through fall leaves to other residences. When no one answered, they left behind materials about Connolly portraying him as “pro-business,” a “champion of Metro,” “fiscally responsible” and an “advocate for veterans.” They rolled up the flier and tucked it into the doorknob; putting it in a mailbox is not allowed.

When they arrived at Cecil Hart’s home, they received a welcome response. “I’m doing the full Democratic ticket,” the man said. But when they asked if they could put up a yard sign, he said, “I’ll have to check with the missus.”

Rosenberg and Walsh noted later that, in the neighborhood, they had walked blocks and blocks without seeing any political signs. The lawns were, instead, festooned with mock spider webs and pumpkins for Halloween.

At another home down the street, a white female told Rosenberg, “We’re both undecided but we don’t need any information. We’ve been getting it all in the mail.”

Another potential voter immediately said, “No thanks,” and closed the door.

Walsh said she’s had a door slammed in her face this year. “You can’t take it personally,” she said, shrugging it off.

Off another side street, the duo met a potential voter who had two Mercedes in his garage. “Are you Mr. Sharma?” Rosenberg asked. “Well, do I look like Mrs. Sharma?” the man quipped. In the end, he said he was leaning toward Connolly and was a “definite maybe” to support Democrats at the top of the ticket.

“We’re out here pounding the shoe leather because we believe in it,” Walsh said.
As she approached the home of a 48-year-old white male, Walsh expressed a little trepidation. With the president polling well behind his challenger, Mitt Romney, among men, she said it’s a demographic that is often not interested in hearing a pro-Democratic message.

“That’s why I’m on your doorstop,” she said. “I’m asking for your vote for the Democratic ticket.” Her face erupted in a huge smile when the voter said he intended to support Connolly and other Democrats on the ballot. “Every time I do this, it makes me hopeful,” she said.

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