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How Kerry Won ... Pennsylvania

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At Staging Area 11 of the John Kerry get-out-the-vote effort -- the awning-covered macadam fronting the Steamfitters Union facility in the West End -- a large box of "John Kerry will protect our heritage" pamphlets sat untouched on a table. They featured the Democratic nominee in full hunting camouflage, toting a rifle.

 

That Pennsylvania could apparently afford to Leave Some Hunters Behind in its GOTV effort for Kerry is one bit of evidence that other concerns moved Pennsylvanians to the polls on Nov. 2.

 

Pennsylvania was still important, of course. Standing within diesel-sniffing distance of Route 51 on that day were not one but several national Kerry campaign operatives. Carina Franck, heavily involved in Orange County Democratic politics, was on loan from California's attorney general race to coordinate the West End volunteers, and Elliot Gerson of Washington, D.C. -- Sen. Joseph Lieberman's 2004 national campaign finance chairman -- was dispatching lawyers as poll watchers at 40 of the approximately 60 precincts in three wards covered by this group.

 

"If at any time there are six provisionals -- call," Gerson instructed each lawyer. "Let us know so we can get new provisionals there."

 

Just after noon, lawyer Bob Clark, on his off day from defending the United Steelworkers of America, had been on the phone much of the morning. "The real problem is ... apparently they don't have enough people answering the phones Downtown," he said. "Eighty thousand new registrants in Allegheny County. Not all those names have gone out to the precincts. Apparently the precincts are burning up the phone lines to Downtown. The precincts can't confirm that these people are on the rolls."

Isobel Jones, 17, from Glasgow, Scotland, was there working for Kerry during her "gap year" before Cambridge. Why work on the American contest? "Tony Blair's got his head so far up Bush's ass it's going to take an industrial machine to get it out," she observed.

 

The place was thick with local volunteers as well, working as "flushers" (knocking on doors to bring out likely Kerry voters who hadn't voted by early afternoon) as well as the "visibility" effort -- waving signs on street corners.

 

Said Eric Possun of Bridgeville, wearing a button depicting George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld as The Three Stooges, about the Bush administration: "Really, what haven't they done to cause people to get involved in this election?"

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