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

Sunday, October 31, 2004

IL volunteer GOTV efforts & Republican sabotage in Toledo, Ohio!

Several Chicago volunteers drove out to Toledo, Ohio this weekend to do all we could to help Kerry in this battleground state. It was very encouraging to see Kerry/Edwards signs everywhere we went =) Some of our volunteers helped post even more yard signs near the convention center to help welcome Cheney today, too. Other volunteers lent a hand with leafletting as well.

Most of our efforts were working GOTV phone banks for Kerry/Edwards. Volunteers from California, Indiana, New York, Idaho, DC and Massachusetts were there as well to boost campaign efforts in Toledo. The local volunteers were very welcoming and enthusiastically optimistic about Ohio turning blue on Tuesday. The energy was high and very positive. The Toledo Blade ran a nice story on the volunteers which you can find here:
I unfortunately was misquoted at the end and didn't like that they used the word "dispatched" since I made it clear that we were acting as independent volunteers going wherever we wanted to, but at least it sounds favorable for the Dems.

The particular phone bank that Nate, Mike from Toledo & I led all day yesterday was the largest Toledo area Kerry GOTV phone bank at Gallon and Takacs law offices. Out of the 8 phone banks that were in the Toledo area yesterday, this one produced one third of all of the contacts made. The Toledo area completed 16% of all of the calls made that day in Ohio.

Along with several of the other Chicago volunteers who showed up this morning ready to have another productive day, we were shocked to find out that the phones at this wonderful location were no longer working. Both the local phone company and the phone systems provider have confirmed to us that the fiber optic cable into the building was purposely severed (!!!) Many volunteers were rerouted to other locations and several also had to rely on cell phones when we found our lines down this morning. We thought it was an unfortunate coincidence until the phone company verified to us that the lines were intentionally cut.

These Republican dirty tactics are just one more reason that we have to give it all we've got in these last couple of days! Get to the battleground states & get everyone to the polls!!!


Saturday, October 30, 2004

Ground Zero Wisconsin

Report from Curtis Keyes:

I'm in Milwaukee with 1000s of other Chicagoans. People are flying in from California, D.C., London -- yes, London -- and other areas of the country to help Kerry win Wisconsin. Kerry must win Wisconsin. Not only will we have an Obama win, but increasing a Kerry/Edwards victory as well.

If you can come to Wisconsin-Milwaukee, please do so. Wisconsin is ground zero. Wisconsin voters can register and vote on Election Day! Wisconsin has 10 electoral votes that Kerry needs!!!!!!

Kerry will be in downtown Milwaukee on Monday at 10am. Free open public rally! Bush will be in Milwaukee Monday too! Come to Wisconsin! Come to Wisconsin! Help us knock on doors and canvass the city. The voting lines are long...up to over an hour. We are getting coffee, seats, food and more for voters while they stand in line. Help with that, help phone bank, help drive seniors/disable to the polls! We do not want any one to get tired and leave without voting due to how long the lines are. The GOP challenged 5600 votes on Saturday, but the court only threw out 39 and dismissed the GOP allegations!

Please respond to this e-mail and let others know that you can come up to Wisconsin. We have free food/coffee throughout the day-- breakfast, lunch, dinner and accomodation for those who need it!

Buses leave Chicago Monday and Tuesday mornings at 8am.

Curtis in Ground Zero Wisconsin. Vote early on Monday at City Hall in Chicago and head to Wisconsin!!!

Last Saturday in MO

Report from Sue Masten:
There was a small group of us leaving early this A.M., but nonetheless a mighty group! I was pleased to have Kay Henriksen and Tammy Mitchelle join us this day. In fact, Tammy -- and Randall Abbott -- had so much fun, they are headed back Sunday! Randall is also offering his legal expertise to MO on election day. And anyone riding with Alecia needs to "strap in" for a fast ride to St. Louis!

There was a HUGE Canvass today. When we drove up there appeared to about 75 people gathered with several smaller groups of 10-15 joining throughout the morning. Those returning proudly reported "It's still Kerry".

Phone banking was done in earnest as well as a coordinate efforts to schedule rides to the Polls. Surprisingly, both the city and county election offices were open today so there was a push to get voters to either office today or Monday beating the highly anticipated rush on Tuesday. One lady in her 80's indicated she and her friend had already made their minds up to take a cab if they could not get a ride. The cab fair would have been quite a lot for both to pay in order to vote but they thought the cost would be well worth it. So do I, but I was glad to offer both a free ride to the polls.

The efforts made on the phone to voters there today paid off as many more than just few were driven to both offices to place their votes for Kerry!! Both offices offered to have ballots brought to the cars of those who were disabled. By 10am lines were forming at sites!! It was good to see to the willingness of so many volunteers to "go the distance" to ensure that others enjoyed the right to vote. And when I say distance, St Louis County covers literally miles upon miles of Missouri soil and the volunteers never even blinked when asked to drive 30 - 40 miles one way to get a voter. Kudos to them all.

On the other hand while making calls it was nice to hear how many seniors had already voted. It was a sheer joy to speak to a 92-year-old man who said quite proudly stated "I voted Tuesday!" Another asked what she could do to thank us for the ride... "Just tell as many as you can to vote and if any need a ride, call us." She did just that. Having voted three of her friends called today to get a ride to the elections offices and all three were taken. More Kerry voters and so many more yet to vote! Things look very positive.

Another surprising event was the number of lawyers who came into the Maywood office this day offering their legal services on Tuesday. This was refreshing to see yet on the other hand it brought to mind the reality of what happened four years ago. God Bless them for offering to protect our constitutional right to vote!

I want to take this time to thank ALL volunteers - for all your efforts whether it be in St. Louis or in and around the Springfield area. It takes time to make time to volunteer. But I have to say, the real joy for me has been meeting so many of you -- working along side of you. Thank you again and I hope to see you again. And May God Bless you and yours in all that you do now and forever. And, may this Thanksgiving find that we have something extra to be thankful for.

Friday, October 29, 2004

85K See Kerry in Madison

Kerry In Madison on Thursday Posted by Hello

Unbelievable! College kids hanging out of the windows at the rally, people as far as I can see, thousands of Kerry signs, what an experience Thursday's rally in Madison was to see.

The national Kerry advance team called us a week before the event to try to pump up turnout from the Chicago area. At the time, they had hoped a showing of 40-50k would make the national news. Instead a whopping 85k turned out...

On Thursday, Channel 5 (to air on Monday) came to interview folks as they were leaving for the rally from the Democratic Party of Evanston.

The ride up I-90 was one IL car with Kerry bumpers stickers after another. We were about forty feet from the stage and had to go through metal detectors to get there. See the pic.

Anyway, when you looked back up State Street to the Capital building, it was an amazing mass of humanity. Awe inspiring to put it mildly.

The thing that kills me about the rally was how the media reported it. Every report keep saying Bruce Springsteen turned out the crowd. What a load of crap! The applause for Kerry was thunderous especially when he served up the red meat for the crowd. People were glad to see Springsteen, but no one drove from Chicago to see the Boss from half a mile away. Why is it the media refuses to believe that swing state voters could actually like Kerry?

Enough ranting, the excitement and momentum were in the air. Kerry's best line was, "This President looked you in the eye during the debates and said how hard it was, how hard it was. (Mockingly) Well help take a burden off this President on November 2nd, send me."

Special thanks to uber volunteers Magali and Maureen for organizing the I4K effort to boost attendance at the rally. Great job!

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Meetup Reports

Report from Josh Lange (Goose Island/Ann Sather):
Last night was my first time hosting at Ann Sather, but the crowd was great (just under 30 people) and I had excellent help from my co-host Joey Hampton. This was the first Meetup without Goose Island, but thankfully a few transplants showed up. Handouts were distributed, volunteers were recruited (for traveling and phonebanking). Guest speaker Joel Colon rallied the troops with his experiences in Afghanistan and personal motivation to ensure patriotism and a vote for John Kerry are one and the same. Afterwards, he took questions from the audience.

This is the first presidential campaign to incorporate the concept of a Meetup into its campaign strategy. Even in the primaries, Kerry’s supporters met and strategized with one another, and this tradition has carried on with five days to go. It has been a real pleasure coordinating Meetups with hosts leaders all across this city, and I hope we can use the KerryChicago Yahoo! group and website to keep us motivated and connected, no matter who wins.

Report from Peter Norman (Evanston):
The Evanston Meetup went well--about 25-30 people. Jan Schakowsky showed up to speak. She is always inspiring.

Report from Dan Pawlus (Hyde Park):
Although there was only a handful of us, everyone was provided flyers and information on how to get out the vote this coming weekend. Each attendee was very motivated.

Report from Barbara Coleman (Bucktown):
Maria Mariottini and I hosted the last Kerry/Bucktown Meetup. We had 17 people attend. Guest speaker Dick Simpson inspired and thanked the crowd for all the work we have done. Everyone pledged to do something over the next few days.

There was a young woman who stopped by with her baby; she pledged to do phonebanking using the setup at

One volunteer who is voting for the first time in the US, talked about how inspired he is by the democratic process where we can make a difference, as compared to elections in his native country.

Several people are going to go to Wisconsin over the weekend and on election day. It seemed like everyone was willing to do what it takes in the last days and hours before November 2nd.

I will miss all the comraderie, and I am proud to have been part of the effort to elect Kerry and Edwards.