On weekend before registration deadline, Dems say Obama volunteer effort at full tilt

When George Cook went to the local barbershop in Hillside last Saturday morning he found a roomful of guys talking politics. A lot of them were already registered, so the grassroots organizer didn’t have to worry about signing anyone up – he just enjoyed the conversation, even filmed some of it for CNN. “Most politics in this town is local,” Cook said. “You usually don’t go into a barbershop here and hear guys talking about global warming, but it’s different this year.” The volunteer said he has registered about 40 or 50 people in Hillside in advance of the Oct. 14th voter registration deadline. That’s happening in a lot of places, in what this weekend will be a final push before next Tuesday with phone and foot-soldiers both official and unofficial. “Are you interested in getting involved with this historic campaign?” volunteer Zaida Polanco of Passaic wrote in a mass email on the online hook-up Passaic Today. “We’re recruiting people to help us knock on doors and make phone calls…” Polanco’s driving an effort on both Saturday and Sunday. In Morris County, Lew Candura, chairman of the party, sent out a mass email to volunteers urging stepped-up registration drives down the stretch. Essex County Democrats, meanwhile, plan to open a South Orange campaign headquarters on Saturday to complement operations in Newark and West Orange. The Obama campaign admits they don’t have a lot of money to spend in New Jersey. But despite the usual expectation in urban communities of payment in exchange for GOTV services and the letdown when Obama campaign workers tell them this time it’s different and they can’t pay, the party is overrun with volunteers, say sources. “I’ve been in New Jersey politics for years, and I can’t remember it ever being this way for a presidential election in Long Branch and Asbury Park,” said a Monmouth County political insider. “The grassroots passion is much deeper than before. The party isn’t doing a lot through the conventional channels but volunteers are taking up the slack.” In addition to grassroots and county-level organized voter registration drives, Andrew Poag, spokesman for the Obama campaign, said he anticipates 1,000 volunteers simly making voter contact this weekend. “Personal voter contact wins elections – the campaign estimates that a vote for Obama is gained for every 12 voters contacted,” explained Jenny Crumiller, director of the Princeton Community Democratic Organization. “You can focus on New Jersey or a crucial swing state. All campaign activities include training and support – no experience necessary and newcomers are welcome!” On Monday, Gov. Jon Corzine, Sen. Frank Lautenberg, U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-Paterson), U.S. Rep. Steve Rothman (D-Fair Lawn), Paterson Mayor Jose “Joey” Torres, Assemblywoman Elease Evans (D-Paterson), Obama senior policy advisor Mark Alexander and others will lead a day-before rally in front of City Hall in the Silk City, as operations spill over into the evening hours on Monday, according to Ryan Yacco, spokesman for the Passaic County Democratic Party.

On weekend before registration deadline, Dems say Obama volunteer effort at full tilt