With less than eight months before Missouri’s presidential primary election, some Columbia residents are starting to mobilize support for the three leading Democratic presidential contenders.
Geoffrey Blackwell, head of the Mid-Missouri for Obama Campaign and a student at Columbia College, started organizing a campaign in early March to back Illinois Sen. Barack Obama. Three members of the group visited almost 150 Columbia homes Saturday to let people know that the Obama campaign is active in Columbia.
Blackwell said the local Obama group has met several times and had 100 people on its mailing list after signing up voters at the Twilight Festival on Thursday and more on Saturday.
Three Obama supporters staffed a campaign table along Walnut Street near the Democratic headquarters building, handing out fliers and other campaign information during the festival.
Buttons with a photograph of Obama and DVDs about his life, also including his candidacy announcement speech, were available for those who signed up for the group’s mailing list.
“I would like to get involved in what is happening here,” said Terri Thomson, who is new to Columbia. “I am a supporter of Obama, and I have always voted Democrat.”
Angie Miller, an employee of Columbia College, was among about 30 people who signed up for Obama e-mail updates. She said she voted Democrat in the last presidential election “and nothing happened.
“Hopefully, this time it will work,” she said.
Paul Ladehoff, an attorney, passed by the table without stopping, but after a while, returned to register for the mailing list.
“It is interesting that this is the only table we saw for the candidates,” Ladehoff said.
Nonetheless, local supporters of Sen. Hillary Clinton and former Sen. John Edwards also have campaign efforts under way.
David Rossman, who has taught communication at Columbia College since 2004, is in charge of the Edwards campaign.
“We had one or two meetings a couple of months ago to discuss how we would do the organizing and when would our next meeting be,” Rossman said. “The (number of) members that showed up were between 15 and 16.”
Rossman has been involved in presidential campaigns before and worked for Jimmy Carter in 1976. He said his inspiration came from his mother, who was active in the Adlai Stevenson campaign in 1952.
Two principal organizers of the Edwards campaign recently left Columbia for other jobs, Rossman said. He hopes to have another meeting in the next few weeks.
Betty Wilson, an attorney, is leading a local charge to garner support for Clinton’s presidential campaign. At the group’s most recent meeting last Monday, Ene Chippendale, the head of the Focus on Learning Center, and Ken Schneebergre joined Wilson to discuss strategies for recruiting campaign workers.
Writing letters to the editor was one idea discussed at the meeting, along with participating in parades and festivals later this summer. The Clinton group hopes to attract college students to its camp when classes resume in August. They’re also planning to go door-to-door and use phone calls to generate interest.
Chippendale said the Clinton organizers “want to end the nightmare” of the Bush administration. She added that she’s working on behalf of Clinton because of her experience in politics and the “outstanding job” she’s done as a New York senator.
“She has a lot of grace and can attract respect,” Chippendale said. “She operates by reason and has a lot of administration experience.”
The Democratic primary election will be held Feb. 5.