Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 2, 2009
By Steve Huffman
Dozens of workers ó most of them young ó have been going door-to-door in recent weeks to spread the word of Bill Graham’s campaign for governor.
There’s a concentration of those volunteers working in Rowan County, but Tom Fetzer, a consultant for the Graham campaign, said they’re working the entire state.
“It’s an effort to introduce Bill in the most personal way possible,” Fetzer said of the work the campaigners are doing.
He said Graham will also be crisscrossing the state in months to come, but noted, “He can’t get to everyone.”
Fetzer said the campaigners are going primarily to the houses of registered Republicans, though they’re not limiting their visits to such individuals. Graham is a Republican.
The campaigners introduce themselves, then ask the homeowner if he or she is familiar with Graham. Regardless of whether or not they speak to the homeowner, the campaigners leave a door hanger that includes information about Graham.
The hangers also include a business reply card that offers the opportunity to provide feedback or the chance to send campaign contributions.
But Fetzer said seeking contributions is not the goal of the workers.
“This is not a fund-raising exercise,” he said.
Fetzer is a former mayor of Raleigh and a partner in Fetzer Stephens, a consulting firm located in the state’s capital. He said his firm has contracted with Graham since the Salisbury attorney came to statewide prominence in 2005 with a self-funded campaign against a proposed gas tax increase.
Fetzer said his firm also managed Elizabeth Dole’s campaign for the U.S. Senate in 2002. He said the firm will manage Dole’s run for re-election next year.
Fetzer said Dole’s re-election effort and Graham’s run for governor will be the two major campaigns his firm will be managing in the coming year.
Fetzer said the workers who are distributing the Graham fliers are mostly college students. He said they’re paid.
Because the majority are college students, the door-to-door campaign will largely end in August when the workers return to school.
“We believe in grassroots retail politics,” Fetzer said.
Aaron Lay works for the Graham campaign and is largely overseeing the door-to-door workers.
He said the workers are recruited from college campuses and various intern Web sites. “Literally a little bit of everywhere,” Lay said of where the workers are found.
He admitted that it’s unusual to start door-to-door gubernatorial campaigns this far in advance, but said they’re doing so this summer for two reasons:
– To get Graham’s name before the public as much as possible and;
– Because college students are more readily available for work during summer breaks.
“We try to put some of our best people in Rowan County,” he said of the large number of those workers canvassing local communities.
Like Fetzer, Lay said most of the workers are going to Republican households, though he also noted, “We’re casting the net a little further out.”
In March, a poll conducted by Raleigh-based Public Policy Polling showed Graham the frontrunner among Republican candidates for governor.
Contact Steve Huffman at 704-797-4222 or firstname.lastname@example.org.