Out in the Fork: What it’s like to door knock with Whitson


Out in the Fork: What it’s like to door knock with Whitson

By EMILY R. WEST

Hopping into the front seat of his red Toyota pickup, Republican Sam Whitson started his way toward Leiper’s Fork.

Hanging out of his cassette player, a tape of cowboy music on side B dangled carelessly out of the insert. A black binder in hand, Whitson rolled out of his Fair Street driveway with no sound other than the hum of the tires on the pavement to keep him company.

Right now in Williamson County, four candidates and their teams will continue to canvass through the final days until the Nov. 8 election. Whitson will face Democrat Holly McCall on the ballot for the District 65 seat. Whitson beat embattled former representative Jeremy Durham in the August primary.

With the intention of setting up a large sign, Whitson made sure he had zip ties and dark green polls to install the bright red and blue banner in a grassy front yard.

On the windy September day, Whitson worked the sign into the ground as cars whizzed by on Southall Road.

“We’ve put up around 900 signs during the primary,” he said. “I ordered 1,000, and honestly at the time, I thought that was way too many.”

Headed up Southall Road, Whitson decided to knock on some doors he missed during his previous round of knocking.

As part of his strategy, his index finger slid down a paper with a list of homes in the Leiper’s Fork area. Since he pulled papers in January to run, Whitson has knocked on around 5,000 doors.

“You don’t want to waste your time on people who don’t vote,” he said, pointing toward the percentage column of each individual’s voting record. He elaborated he wanted to focus on those who vote with houses spread out without sidewalks in rural parts of the district.

“What I mean by that is you want to hit the ones who have a record of voting.”

Pulling down a long driveway, he arrived at a house with a sign in the front yard. The sign was not for any state house candidate. Instead, a makeshift one stood in place of four stolen Donald Trump signs.

“4 Trump signs stolen” it read in black scrawl on a white background.

As soon as the voters in the home opened the door, their stolen signs was one of the first things they talked about.

Whitson left the home on a positive note. He was able to place one of his signs in the yard in place of a stolen one.

“You see, this is how a lot of these interactions go,” he said. “Some people already know you, and it makes you feel good. There’s an obligation of trust.”

Headed back toward Franklin, Whitson made more stops along the way. He stopped one voter on his lawnmower that he had tried to reach three times beforehand. He also left palm cards under welcome mats at homes where he couldn’t reach their residents.

But before giving up on door knocking for the day, Whitson made one more stop. Staying 15 minutes at one voter’s house, the two talked about everything from a slight mention of Durham to mutual friends among the two.

“I am going to work hard, and we don’t take anything for granted,” Whitson said. “I’ve met a lot of your neighbors, and I hope you’ll vote for me.”

Before leaving, the man turned back and smiled as Whitson turned to give a card to his landscaper.

“In door knocking, approach everyone you meet,” he said. “Everyone is a potential voter.”

For more information on Sam Whitson, visit http://www.sam4staterep.com/.

The Home Page is going door knocking with every candidate this election cycle. 

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