Going Door to Door in the Dark
By Jerry Kopel
April 29, 2007
Pretty soon it will be June. The sun will be out in the evening and it's time, especially for the just-elected-for-the-first-time House members to start going door to door in the district.
I know this is not "your" election year, but considering how large your district is and how impressed your constituency will be, this is the way to pick up volunteers and donors. Only one caution. Don't ring a bell or knock on a door after dark.
I just had someone running for the Denver city council who came knocking on my door about 9 p.m. I opened the door and before he could say a word ( I recognized his face) I said "you're crazy to go out campaigning in the dark, and I would never vote for you."
Going back to the early 1960's when I was a committee man in Park Hill, my committee woman and I went door to door, checking to see who was registered or still living at the address in the poll book. We had started in the daylight. It was now dark.
We came to one house and knocked on the door. A man and a woman came to the door, opened it, came out, and stood straight against the adjoining wall, hands to their side looking straight ahead.
It turned out they were husband and wife immigrants from Soviet Russia, and the only people who came knocking on your door at night were the Soviet police or the secret police. Since we did not have uniforms on, we had to be secret police, especially since we were flashing a light on papers in our hands (the pool book).
We asked if they were registered to vote, knowing full well they were not, and thanked them. They turned and went back silently into their house. That ended our night-time ventures.
Sorry To Have Missed You
Before you go out to visit in your district, be sure to take the time to write a short message on the small pads you plan to leave at each house. Since you will only have people coming to the door at 30 percent of the homes visited, your note pad lets the absent residents know you actually did stop by.
My message was "sorry to have missed you" with my signature. If I ran out of signed pads, I had to write the message before I knocked on the next door.
It was in the last election (Number 13) that I finally realized it might be time to leave. I looked down at the pad where I had just written this message: "Sorry to have met you".
Keep Our Word
When that door does open, speak immediately. "Hi! I'm Jerry Kopel, your state representative, and can I be of service to you?"
The tiny, elderly lady who came to the door on crutches replied "yes, you can water my peonies". The flowers were left of the bottom of the steps. "Of course" I said, filing the watering can from the hose and being of service.
Grin and Bear It
You are running in a presidential year. Going door-to-door you find the candidate's latest goof-up on everyone's lips. In 1972 it was George McGovern. "Hi. I'm Jerry Kopel and..." The interruption comes "I'm with you a thousand percent". After vice-presidential candidate Sen. Tom Eagleton stated he had had mental breakdowns, McGovern indicated "I'm 1,000 percent behind Tom Eagleton and I have no intention of dropping him from the ticket." (Which he promptly did.)
In a speech in Ames, Iowa, McGovern promised "$1,000 a year to every man, woman, and child in America" from the richest to the poorest. You knock on the door, it opens and you say "Hi! I'm Jerry Kopel and..." The interruption comes with a hand outstretched "where's my thousand dollars?"
It's all in good fun, but it gets tiresome after awhile.
Are Your Voters Literate?
Towards the end of a campaign, my volunteers lined up some very old used vehicles, parked them many blocks apart and next to the grassy barriers separating the north and south traffic on a major street, with my huge sign on top of each automobile "Jerry Kopel Cares".
A voter sitting on the steps of his house, greeted me. "I didn't know you were in the used car business." I asked "what do you mean?"
The answer "Well, I saw your sign, Jerry Kopel Cars."
(Jerry Kopel served 22 years in the Colorado House.)
Copyright 2015 Jerry Kopel & David Kopel