Palin pumps life into Republican efforts

Alyssa Sparacino

The Portage County Republican headquarters experienced a jump start with the addition of Sen. Sarah Palin, an Alaskan Republican, to the GOP’s ticket.

Chairman Norm Sandvoss said until the vice president nomination announcement, the campaign in the area was “going along at a very moderate rate.”

“Now, there is a completely different attitude,” Sandvoss said. “We’re getting phone calls, questions, donations, and we finally have a steady stream of volunteers.”

Kevin Keller, a Ravenna business owner and Kent resident, became a volunteer Sept. 8 when he visited the Republican headquarters to get a McCain yard sign. He learned the headquarters had none available because they needed someone to retrieve the signs from the Ohio Republican Party in Columbus.

So Keller volunteered himself.

He said he was not looking to be reimbursed in any way, although he was offered 48 cents to the mile for his approximately 2 1/2-hour trip. This stipend would come directly out of other volunteers’ pockets.

“This year I felt that I wanted to be more hands-on because the Republicans are getting a bad rap,” Keller said.

The Portage County Republican headquarters has been accused of not being aggressive enough with its campaigning, volunteer Jerry Downey said. However, he said he sees this as a result of the lateness of the Republican National Convention and the vice presidential nomination.

The Palin announcement has done a lot of the legwork for the headquarters, he said.

“We haven’t had a need to do much solicitation because there is such a groundswell of support for Sarah Palin,” Downey said. “There has been life pumped into the Republican Party’s base.”

Members of College Republicans have also recently volunteered their time at local Republican headquarters assisting with phone banking, said President Andrew Seachrist.

Seachrist said members plan to have a table set up in the Student Center where they can register voters, answer questions, pass out McCain voting records and speeches and hand out McCain/Palin bumper stickers.

“Getting John McCain elected,” he said, is the organizations’ job and primary goal. “Also letting people know we’re here and that there are Republicans on campus who they can share like-minded ideas with.”

Republicans are the minority in Portage County, Sandvoss said, but the headquarters rely on traditional methods that have proven to be effective in past general elections, as well as a few new tricks – which he won’t reveal, he said, for fear that the Democratic Party will turn around and repeat.

Contact public affairs reporter Alyssa Sparacino at [email protected].