Political Campaign Jobs : FROM THE TRENCHES
Political Campaign Jobs :
FROM THE TRENCHES
Interview with John D. ( 6 Minute Read )
John D. is widely known for his high level political contacts and influential family members. He has hinted at aspirations for high office himself, and his experiences drive him closer each day. He recently spent several months on the campaign trail for Carly Fiorina in New Hampshire, a small but integral part of the 2016 election, brimming with some of the most well informed Americans in the country. This is his story of triumph through turmoil, the limits of human strength, and what it takes to fight for change…
Rich D. :How did you first get involved in the Fiorina Campaign?
John D. : I saw her in the debates and liked what she had to say. She’s the only candidate I was interested in. I looked into who she was, why she was running, and after doing some research I really liked her message. I sent out a few emails to people, one was the assistant to her Deputy Campaign Manager. I never heard back, so I sent another, and I still didn’t hear back. I decided to keep sending emails to different people until the word got around in DC that “This guy really wants to work to you.” Persistence is key. Finally someone called me up, and asked if I wanted the job… I guess they didn’t go into much detail about how many emails I sent… Soon I received a call from the State Director of the campaign in New Hampshire. I took the interview, they hired me that week, and I was up there at the tail end of November.
Rich: Nice. What was your role? Can you name some responsibilities?
John: They called us “FIELD LEADERS” and gave us all a territory that we were going to manage. We would recruit people to be volunteers and convince state reps or senators from the area to endorse Carly and get votes for Carly in New Hampshire.
In the territory I was scheduled to, I went around recruiting state reps to endorse Carly, get volunteers, and seek out “community captains.” These were people who would go out into the community on our behalf to fill recruitment quotas by a weekly or monthly basis and report back to us. The State Director and the campaign came up with the goals, and it was our job to mobilize people to reach them.
Rich: What was the most interesting thing about New Hampshire?
John: This is actually the thing that struck me the most: A LOT of the people up there are REALLY politically active. They live and breathe politics. They’re politics OBSESSIVE up there, but… in a good way. They know what they’re talking about and they know it immensely well. It’s hard to argue with them because it’s like they have everything committed to memory. They would keep tabs on every word every candidate said. On the plus side, this made it really easy to inform them about Carly because they already knew LITERALLY everything she ever did or said. So it was never too tall of a task to tell someone who already knew everything about her to support her… Or to get someone they knew to support her.
Rich: I remember you saying the nightlife was… “Psychotic”?
John: Hahah, yeah basically. It’s freezing cold up there most of the year, and they have the highest drug problem of anywhere in the northeast. They just love the heroin. On top of that, people up there also consume more alcohol per capita than anywhere else in the U.S. But the nightlife was basically one street and that’s it. But there was still a lot to do, and all of the campaigns are there so it’s packed with people. We weren’t supposed to talk to each other, but we’d bump into people from other tribes and be polite. But there’s some people who would just be complete fucking assholes, like, “YOU’RE SHIT BECAUSE YOU DON’T SUPPORT OUR CANDIDATE!!!” …But I won’t tell you who’s campaign they were from.
Probably the coolest place I ever went to was the speakeasy where you had to have the password and know people to get in, so we frequented that place. We’d all march in after work and they somehow knew who we all were, so they’d let us in. In the speakeasy is probably where we had the most philosophical conversations with each other, talking about the campaigns, different candidates, the great [REDACTED], and overall it was just a chill place where we could hang out and discuss everything…
Nashua, which was the next closest town, was always a good time too, because that town was right on the border with Massachusetts, and that was the other big town nearby that had campaign HQs and offices.
Rich: So are all of these campaign kids getting trashed and screwing across party lines?
John: It’s a pretty generic thing on these campaign trails that everybody’s with somebody, but it’s not like there was much time anyway. We were so insanely busy, I’m glad I got the little amount of sleep I did.
Rich: Damn. I was hoping for some weird Rubio & Juliet story. Run me through a day in the life on the campaign trail.
John: Here’s my schedule:
- 7:00am-8:00am|Get up and get to the office
- 8:00am-10am| Do follow-up emails, send emails to potential supporters we needed to be in-touch with for the week, and doing any research we could to stay up to date with the race and anything that was happening.
- 10:00am| that’s when we were able to follow up with people, because we had a rule you couldn’t call anybody until ten. The main purpose of that was to do voter outreach, and no one wants to get a call when they’re in bed or on the way to work. We had MASSIVE lists and lists of people who were voters and we would just go down the lists, calling people, saying, “What do you think of Carly?! What do you think about her opinion on this? –from 10 to basically 1pm.
- 1:00pm-1:30pm| Lunch
- 1:30pm-Dark| From lunch, basically until dark, we would go door-knocking.
It was not fun… it was just not fun. But you meet some interesting people because people always like to speak their minds. We’d be out from 1:30 to about 5:00 or 6:00pm and when it started getting dark later in the year it was better because we’d always go back to the office at dark– and then begin repeating the morning routine. Send emails, eblasts, and follow up on phone calls for any voters or anyone we hadn’t heard from and needed to get back to.
Rich: How late did you work each night?
John: At 8:00pm we were required to stop making phone calls. In the beginning of the campaign, we would end the day at 8:00 or 8:30, but as we got closer to the end of the campaign — and the primary, that’s when things really started to spiral out of control — We would be staying til 9:00, 9:30, 10:00, and then we started working Sundays… It was nice because we got to come in at 10am at least, but we would always stay later. It got to the point where — at the beginning of the campaign we were working… 12 or 12.5 hours per day, and towards the end when it got closer to primary day– we were working about 14, because you were even doing work at home. That’s when it got to the point where everyone was INSANE because we were in the trenches. It became your life…
It was fun but I can see how people get burnt out, because it takes a lot out of you…
Rich: Wow, that’s a ton of work. So after all of that craziness, and busting ass all day and night, how did you feel when the campaign ended?
John: I think surprised is the best way to describe it. We had been told from the get go that regardless of whatever happened in New Hampshire, Carly would be in it until Super Tuesday… They said she would stay in the running until the southern states voted. It was really disappointing because we worked our asses off.
Rich: What happened on election day?
John: On the day of the election we got the day off. Mind you we were under contract through March 1st, even a week after the election. Carly didn’t do so hot… so we got our first day off in months, and from that point no one knew what we were going to do. That day we got an email from the press secretary saying Carly’s going to stay in the running, and later that day we got another email from the press secretary saying it’s over, and that she decided she didn’t want to ‘splinter the vote’ any more from other candidates whose message was prevailing.
She got screwed out of the debate at NBC because they said her votes didn’t make the cut. They were telling us that a candidate who had won something didn’t get to go onto the debate stage, and others did. And don’t quote me on the specifics, but the majority of people made their final decision for the primary based off that last debate… It was an obstacle that we couldn’t overcome because at the end of the day people made up their minds based on something they wouldn’t allow us to be a part of. So network television can tell you you don’t deserve it just because of delegate polls that are irrelevant, because there’s a real vote going on. I guess Carly made the decision because she had so many people working against her… so I guess it wasn’t worth it too keep raging against the machine so to speak.
Rich: What’d you do when it was all over?
John: The campaign wrapped up and I decided to head home and reassess everything from there. Like I said I can see why a lot of ppl can find it addicting because it can be very very fun, but the hours you work can be VERY straining at times. So if you aren’t a person who can deal with a lot of stress and really late nights, you’re going to die. So when I finally got out, it was a LOT of strain off of me because I could finally sleep more than a few hours, and I finally had a life, so it was time to take a week off and recalibrate and then I just started applying to jobs again.
RICH: Bet it was good to reboot. The whole thing sounds super intense. What were the biggest takeaways from your experience on the campaign?
John: The biggest takeaway for sure was just learning how the process works and why it’s so important to understand why our system is set up the way it is, because of how dedicated, involved, and concerned people are with the way things are going and they want to have a say in that.
Learning how the process works, learning how to stay involved, and learning about the issues and what the candidates are made of, because they set a precedent for future states and people will always go back it it and say, “Well this is how they did in New Hampshire…” so this really does set a bar for candidates down the line, and you’ll never know what someone’s opinion is unless you stay current and stay informed. That was the thing that amazed me the most, because of how many people are involved, and how many people just Do. Not. Care.
It’s actually a frightening state of ignorance.
Rich: Would you do it all again? Would you ever go back there??
John: Yes, I think I would… just not any time soon, mind-you. But yes, I think I would do it again… but with the right person of course. There’s a lot of people out there that are just political operatives and they just spend their lives going from campaign to campaign as advisors and are just insane people. But if I found someone I really liked… and could really get behind… I’d definitely be right there again… and I think I could really do it.
Do you think YOU could survive a grueling campaign like the one John went through? Feel free to talk about your experiences or ask any questions for John in the comments below. For more information on how YOU can join the ranks of America’s great campaigners, check out this link Here.