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When FreedomWorks saw that Georgia’s Senate race would be determined with a special run-off election on December 2nd, we immediately jumped at the opportunity to grow the Georgia organization from one chapter in Congressional District 10, to a state-wide network of dedicated leaders and activists. It was soon apparent that the Saxby Chambliss – Jim Martin race was going to be huge.
With a filibuster-proof majority hanging in the balance, resources from liberal factions poured into the state, to do their own brand of voter education. President-elect Barack Obama’s entire southern team relocated to Georgia. The AFL-CIO moved field staff into Georgia and sent voter education mail to 80,000 homes. FreedomWorks activists certainly had an uphill battle against such well funded and well organized groups, but using tried and true grassroots tactics, proved themselves more than equal to the might of the left.
In less than a week, FreedomWorks formulated a plan for what would be a massive “shoe-leather” Get Out The Vote (GOTV) campaign throughout Georgia. FreedomWorks volunteer leaders from all over the south agreed to hold planning meetings in many Georgia Congressional districts, where they would train activists, start chapters, and organize door-to-door activities and literature drops.
By the weekend of November 22nd, 13 meetings were in place, and conservative Georgians were eagerly signing up to attend and help with GOTV efforts. FreedomWorks Director of Federal and State Campaigns, Brendan Steinhauser, went down to Atlanta to help train new activists. In addition to training ten at his Atlanta meeting, Steinhauser was a featured guest on the Greg Howard radio show on 1300 AM in Gwinnet County. He was interviewed for a full hour and the radio host was so enthused about FreedomWorks’ mission and activities in Georgia, he promptly became a volunteer leader.
Across Georgia heading into the December 2nd election, newly minted activists led lit drops at store parking lots and went door to door educating voters in Roswell, Sandy Springs, Alpharetta, Buckhead, Duluth, and Atlanta. FreedomWorks Georgia volunteers joined forces University of Georgia college students in Athens to distribute materials at the Georgia/Georgia Tech football game on the 29th. Altogether, FreedomWorks volunteers distributed 90,000 pieces of voter education literature and those who weren’t going door to door, or car to car, were inside, making over 6,000 phone calls to targeted voters. This far exceeded the numbers the AFL-CIO boasted about, and all with volunteers.
This stunning effort did not go unnoticed by Senator Chambliss’ staff. After one woman saw a flyer, she called a local victory center to volunteer. And their staff in turn, told her to call FreedomWorks – those were the folks turning people out. FreedomWorks should be able to capitalize on this new relationship with the Senator over the coming years as our new Georgia organization will be able to support his good votes and remind him of his free market roots when he needs it. So on December 3rd, less than a month after this campaign’s kickoff, FreedomWorks woke up to not just a Chambliss win, but to a true grassroots machine in Georgia ready to take on the challenges of next year.