Thursday, November 11, 2004


I sent out a final listing of new articles and galleries to our Yahoo Groups in Illinois. I still have a few things to add -- mostly photos from events prior to 11/2 -- but as the campaign winds down and we redirect our efforts, there naturally will be fewer updates.

I'd like to thank everyone from Illinois who supplied articles and photos to the site. I'd also like to thank all of those on the various Yahoo Groups across the state who kept us informed and added to our enthusiasm and committment through the example of their own.

We may have lost this round but think of it this way: we have a mandate from all of those who supported us and who we care about to continue standing up for progressive causes, and we have values -- because that's the way we were raised -- not to relent until we eventually win.

See you all,


Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Experiences in Milwaukee

Our candidate didn't win. His defeat and the triumph of his opponent -- particularly this opponent -- portends a difficult period for our country in the immediate future. This we all know.

But if we ignore for the moment where we are and concentrate instead on what we all did these past few months -- the level of commitment that so many people showed for so long -- it may give us hope that the current defeat while serious is only temporary.

For the last few days of the campaign I was in Milwaukee. Milwaukee was the scene of a tremendous Get Out the Vote effort that was mirrored in several cities and towns across Wisconsin. Countless people from Illinois were involved and as Sharon Sikes points out, our efforts at least in Wisconsin were successful.

But what did it mean to Get Out the Vote in the final few days leading up to the election?

Field operations in Milwaukee were run out of a fairly large one-storey building on Hawley Road. The building however wasn't large enough to accommodate all the volunteers who showed up. So the Wisconsin people moved their operations to the parking lot outside. On Sunday and Monday, it started to rain. So the Wisconsin people set up a large tent like what you might see at a State Fair. Volunteers who showed up could get their canvassing packets or visibility material in the tent. Many volunteers were in the field till late in the evening -- there were "lit drops" towards the end at 8pm and even 11:30. The neighborhoods could be completely dark and it would be hard to tell through the darkness and rain (and occasional ambiguity of the maps), whether you were going down your designated street. As the rain continued throughout Monday only beginning to diminish towards the end of the day, it turned rather chilly. So the Wisconsin people set up a heater in one corner of the tent. Funding for these activities was adequate but never large. Over the weekend, money for food to feed the huge numbers of volunteers either beginning or ending their shift ran out. Someone contributed a hundred pizzas. Someone else contributed 500 sandwiches from Subway's. A woman brought in a large pot of pasta that she had prepared herself. We made do, depended on the generosity of the local people and there was always something to nibble on in between shifts.

None of this is to complain about the conditions. Just the opposite. There could have been a tornado ripping through the area and most of the volunteers I saw would have happily chained their legs to a fence and continued to hand out literature despite the heavy winds. That was the level of commitment that we had in Wisconsin leading up to the election.

That was also the level of commitment in countless other places in Illinois as well as in the Battleground states. Naturally when you put out such an effort, you'd like to see your guy win. Unfortunately, that wasn't the case. But not every team no matter how good wins the game every year. What we had to do and what we succeeded in was to create the team that actually could win a game -- if not this year then the next. That's the unprecedented thing and what we'll hold on to until the next time round.

We Made a Difference!

Message from Sharon Sikes:
Hello again, my friends,

This is surely the letter I least want to write. I am devastated that we will not see John Kerry and John Edwards in the White House. I am deeply distressed by the message that Bush's re-election sends to the rest of the world. It is appalling that the moral referendums in several states brought out millions of new voters who made their voices heard over narrow moral issues: gay marriage, abortion, and stem cell research. It is stunning to see half of our country choose to ignore our President's unilateral bullying and deception and call it a just war on terror.

But, my friends, we've learned some important things here. WE MADE A DIFFERENCE! We delivered Wisconsin for John Kerry! When I was asked to raise funds to pay for some buses to take volunteers into Wisconsin, a goal of $10,000 seemed a realistic figure for the six weeks until the election. We thought that sending one bus each week into Wisconsin would be tremendous! Little did we know the depths of your generosity and committment! We sent that $10,000 to Wisconsin after only three weeks! By the middle of last week, when I sent the final bundle of checks off to Madison, we'd raised more than $25,000!

By the final weeks prior to the election, our biggest job was to respond to the hundreds of volunteers who signed up to travel! We had three people working on their computers all night for days on end, just to respond to emails and to schedule busload after busload of volunteers. Thea Turner, Daniel Biss and Mickey Alm deserve gold medals for linking their computers and keeping everything running! I know that a few of you got lost and we all regret that! This was a superhuman effort that was put together on the fly and I, personally, want to thank the many of you who didn't get scheduled during the final week, but who took Monday and Tuesday off, hopped into a car and showed up anyway!

The final four days saw IllinoisforKerry volunteers in Madison, Milwaukee, Kenosha, Janesville, Beloit and Racine! We were flooded with so many volunteers that we were able to dispatch many of you from one location to another. What we heard, over and over again, was "Sure!" and, "Whatever you need!" "Go walk three miles in the rain to distribute literature? - No Problem!" "Drive another 2 hours to get another couple of drivers to Madison? - Absolutely!"

This afternoon, John Edwards said, "We can be disappointed, but we cannot walk away!" We have to learn something important! What we did made a difference! What we continue to do can make a difference. We must stay (or get) involved on a local level and on a state level. In two years, we will have a chance to make a difference in the Senate. It will be a start. There's no quick fix for the damage that has been done, but we know that we can make a difference! There's great power in unity and in shared belief.

Mike and I know that our days of complacency are over. We know that we have to physically, emotionally and financially put ourselves into the fray and continue the fight to take back our country, to restore our eroded civil rights and to rebuild what has been broken. It is not nearly as comfortable as simply complaining about the state of things, but it is necessary.

I thank each one of you from the bottom of my heart. I am humbled and awed by the depths of your generosity and by your committment and sacrifices. Many of you have become dear friends and, for this, I am exceedingly grateful! I won't be disappearing - the good fight is still out there!

God bless us and, God help us!


Tuesday, November 02, 2004

It's Election Day! Vote Early! Then Volunteer In Wisconsin!

Report from Thea Turner:
Dear Kerry supporters,

Today is the day! This is the most important election of our lifetime. We must win. Losing is unthinkable. There are two important things you can do today:

1) Vote early, if you haven't already voted!
2) Get out the vote for John Kerry and John Edwards and other Democratic candidates. This means going to a battleground state to help out if you can or helping with the election in Illinois if you can't travel.

If you are staying home and are not sure how to help get out the Illinois vote, call your local Democratic official's office and ask how you can help. There is lots to do!

If you can travel (and you are not already in Wisconsin, Iowa, Ohio, Michigan…), please come to Wisconsin! Wisconsin's 10 electoral college votes may well decide this election. Everything that could be done to prepare for today has been done. Now it's time to make sure every Kerry vote is cast!

We have had an overwhelming response to our call for Wisconsin volunteers. Many of you have sent email to, asking where you should go. We have tried to get back to as many of you as possible, staying up many sleepless nights to process them. Alas, you are so enthusiastic that we have been unable to get back to all of you.

If we did get back to you, and we gave you a location, please go there. We have sent people to the locations that were given by Kerry's Wisconsin team in the proportions they requested. That means some of you will drive farther than others. But all locations are important and need to be covered. The farther locations have the most need now.

If one of the 527's (MoveOn, ACT, League of Conservation Voters, etc.) asked you to work for them in the meantime, please consider that they cannot legally have any contact with the Kerry campaign. Therefore, their efforts be inefficient and may lead to duplication. The Kerry campaign in Wisconsin has a lot of voter history that is not available to 527's. It is very important that the campaign has enough volunteers to get all the Kerry vote out. The campaign is also under spending restrictions that the 527's don't have to follow. While the goal is the same, the Kerry campaign should have precedence if you want to volunteer.

Because we cannot answer you all individually, I'd like to ask you to go to a location that is as far as you are willing to drive. When you get there, check in with the local Illinois for Kerry (I4K) volunteer. We are coordinating the efforts of our volunteers at the request of the campaign, so we need to know when you are there and ready to help. Volunteers will be needed at least up to the time the polls close.

Here are our locations, with the address and coordinators.

You can also call the Kerry HQ in Chicago for information. When you arrive, you will receive all training and instructions in the office. You are encouraged to show up as early as you can. You can get directions from or

**Madison is home of a huge university and progressive community. It is a Democratic stronghold. Address: AFSCME Headquarters, 8033 Excelsior, Madison. I4K Coordinator:
Daniel Dennison. Wisconsin Coordinator: Kris Pratt

**Janesville is in a crucial swing region of the state.
Address: Janesville Labor Temple, 1605 Center Ave, Janesville. I4K Coordinator: Micky Alm. Wisconsin Coordinator: Kim Nelson.

** Beloit is also in a crucial swing region of the state. Address: Beloit Democratic Coordinated Office, 430 E. Grand Street, Beloit. I4K Coordinator: Sue Schell. Wisconsin Coordinator: Danica Sorenson.

**Milwaukee (central office) is an urban area that is a Democratic stronghold. Address: Milwaukee Labor Council, 633 S. Hawley Road, Milwaukee. I4K Coordinator: Daniel Biss. Wisconsin Coordinators: Scott Haslett and Kris Shultz.

** Milwaukee (South office) is a second location in this critical urban, Democratic stronghold. Address: 910 S. 16th, Milwaukee. I4K Coordinator: Rich Heath. Wisconsin Coordinator: Richard Castanon.

**Racine is in another crucial swing region of the state. (central office) is an urban area that is a Democratic stronghold. Address: Racine UAW Hall, 3323 Kearney Ave, Racine. I4K Coordinator: Jonas Heineman. Wisconsin Coordinator: Diane Welsh.

**Kenosha is in the same crucial swing region of the state as Racine. Address: Kenosha UAW Hall, 3615 Washington Road, Kenosha. I4K Coordinator: Bill Bost. Wisconsin Coordinator: John Moak.

The cities are roughly ordered by distance from Chicago, although not necessarily your location. They are also in order by priority and need, since more people are willing to go to a closer location. Think about the need to get the Kerry vote out in all locations in Wisconsin, not just the corridor along the lake near Chicago.

If you can make it, fantastic! We really appreciate all your help! You don't have to call or email us, just show up. Bring your friends! Bring your family! Dress warmly and be prepared to do whatever is necessary to get Wisconsin to vote overwhelmingly for John Kerry and John Edwards!

Our buses will leave at 8:00 AM for their locations. We won't have a later bus, so you may have to drive. If you don't want to drive, find a friend who can or take Amtrack north to Wisconsin.

Good luck in Wisconsin! We're going to come back to Illinois with the country about to embark on a new, happier era!!!

Thanks, as always, for all your help!!!

Thea Turner from Madison, Wisconsin