When John Kerry received the Democratic presidential nomination last month, it brought together different factions of the party. Since then, groups that once supported candidates like Howard Dean and Wesley Clark have been heading to the Boone County Democratic Headquarters to back Kerry.
This unity was put on display Thursday at the first Kerry Meet-Up since the Democratic National Convention. Jim Windsor, the event's coordinator, describes a Kerry Meet-Up as a monthly meeting for people who haven't yet been involved in the campaign. He stresses that meet-ups can be used to organize any group of people with similar interests.
"Dean used the meet-up as an early organizational tool and demonstrated their usefulness in politics," said Windsor, who originally backed Dean. "The meet-up is an unofficial tool. We encourage meet-up people to assist in phone-banking and other events."
According to Phillis Fugit, who was elected to chair the Boone County Central Democratic Committee last week, the result of this unification has been positive, and the headquarters has seen an influx in volunteers.
"We're seeing lot's of people coming in to volunteer, to phone-bank Monday through Thursday," Fugit said. "The last time I saw this much energy was in 1992 with Clinton."
MU student Holly Villines is just one of the Democrats who attended Thursday night's meet-up and has decided to become involved in the campaign since the convention. To her, the choice to rally for Kerry was logical.
"I supported Wesley Clark to begin with, and when Kerry got the ticket, I learned about him and thought he was a good candidate," Villines said. "I'm not really old enough to have participated in the other elections, and this just happens to be a very important election."
Columbia resident Ian Donovan has disliked George W. Bush for the past four years and said he was inspired when he attended the convention viewing party held at the headquarters the night of Kerry's televised speech.
"It was motivating," Donovan said. "I was energized seeing all the people here for the effort."