By EMILY R. WEST
Standing among 15 volunteers, Democratic candidate Courtenay Rogers gave the final instructions for canvasing on a sunny day in October.
Unlike going it alone like she does other parts of the week, Saturdays are devoted to teamwork. As of early October, the Rogers campaign had knocked on around 6,000 doors.
“I started in June just me,” she said. “It was just me figuring it out. Then I got two volunteers. I had a lot of help them with them in the summer.
“You know, most people weren’t paying attention in June or July, which makes sense. There was the August primary, and I was in an uncontested race. But after the primary, it was go time. We started building out weekend teams and using an app.”
She and her field director Joe Sheeran gave out quips of advice before heading off into different directions in Nolensville, a large stakeholder in District 63. Parts of Brentwood’s east side, Cool Springs and unincorporated Williamson County – like College Grove, Bethesda and Triune – also fall into the district.
Four Williamson County candidates and their teams will continue to canvass through the final days until the Nov. 8 election. Rogers will face incumbent Glen Casada (R-Thompson’s Station) on the ballot.
Everyone in the Rogers camp is assigned to a neighborhood. Before they dispersed, Rogers and Sheeran gave out pointers for around 45 minutes on how to interact with voters and how to collect data on their experiences.
Rogers’ team doesn’t use any paper – they instead use the MiniVan app – though each of them has a black clipboard attached with door hangers and palm cards.
They also keep track of their exchanges at the door. Depending on how they rank their contact with the voters, Rogers will figure out how to reconnect with the voters one last time before the election.
Sheeran wanted to get one major point across – this is about the state legislature election, not about the presidential one.
“Basically what we are working with today is a list of everyone that is likely to vote in the election,” he said. “I don’t want hear the words ‘Hillary Clinton’ come out of anyone’s mouth today. If someone answers the door and you say, ‘I am here to talk to you about your vote,’ and they say ‘I am voting Trump,’ and you think you can move on, that’s not true.”
As a part of the app, it shows the likely party of those who live inside the house they knock on. That is based on voter registration information, which is all public record.
The app gives an indication of what they might be, ranging from strong Democrat to strong Republican. And often times, it might not have any data on party affiliation.
“Don’t let [strong Republican] and [lean Republican] scare you, I flip Republicans all day long because we are knocking on their door,” Rogers said.
Shuffling into their cars, Rogers headed to one of the many neighborhoods off of Nolensville Road. But unlike any other canvasser, Rogers has a special volunteer – her 9-year-old daughter, Clair.
And Rogers will tell anyone – her daughter is one of the primary reasons she’s running for a seat in the state House. Clair’s also fearless when it comes to standing alongside her mom, and most of the time she’s the first to notice wagging dogs through glass panes of homes.
“In door knocking in Williamson County, I don’t think you could not like dogs,” Rogers said with a laugh. “Williamson County loves their dogs.”
During Saturday’s run, Rogers knocked on dozens of doors before it was time to take a breather.
On the last door she knocked, she left after a pleasant conversation. Similar to other experiences, the voter wanted to know about infrastructure and express her frustrations. Rather than tell her solely about herself, Rogers said she would rather spend her time talking about issues, not her resume.
Walking back to the car with her daughter, Rogers turned to find that same woman running down the sidewalk behind her.
“Courtenay, wait a second,” the voter said. “My husband just told me you’re running against Glen Casada. I want a yard sign.”
Retrieving one from the trunk of her car, Rogers happily obliged.
“In all the doors, I’ve had 10 people probably [do that],” she said. “I do not walk up to a door and talk smack about anyone. I don’t walk up to a door and say ‘Hi, I am Courtenay, I’m running against Glen Casada.’
“Some people don’t know who their state representative is. So rather than talking about my opponent who they may not know exists, I ask them questions. People are sick of politicians talking about themselves all the time. So I try not be that way, because that’s not how I am going to be when I am elected.”
For more about Courtenay Rogers campaign, visit http://www.courtenayrogers.com/.
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