Team Minnesota- Stan Kehl
This isn’t Stan Kehl’s first GOTV campaign. He’s a veteran of the ground game, spending months turning out the vote as paid staff for Obama in Cincinnati and Hillary in Pittsburg, relishing the feeling of being a part of history. In fact, he’d planned to get out of politics entirely after those campaigns. But with the 2016 election “it was clear I could not ride off into the sunset and retire,” recalls Stan with a rueful laugh. He and his wife Karen Fie found Common Purpose and are bringing their enthusiasm and experience to Team Minnesota.
On Team Minnesota, Stan and Karen are working with the local Democratic-Farmer-Labor party (DFL, Minnesota’s name for the Democrats) to elect Dean Phillips to Congress in District 3. Phillips is running against a 10-year incumbent in the Minnesota suburbs, a district that voted for Hillary in 2016. Stan and the local DFL party believe they can flip the seat on November 6th.
Canvassing keeps Stan motivated. “You knock, you talk to people. It’s a fun thing to be out there. You get a little exercise, and you find some really nice people you’d like to talk to forever!” At one house, he was looking for a 19 year old young man. His mother answered the door and told Stan, “You should be talking to me because I always vote!” A lifelong Republican, she was frustrated with the incumbent for “voting against Planned Parenthood one too many times,” and plans to vote for Phillips this year. She didn’t want to interrupt her son playing video games, but pledged to encourage him to vote, too.
At another house, Stan was surprised to be recognized by the woman who answered the door – she’d been at campaign headquarters when Team Minnesota arrived. She reported her entire family were strong votes for Phillips, but they had a unique barrier to signaling their support: their cul de sac has an agreement to show only one political sign per yard. She adapted by switching her sign every day. That day, her sign expressed support for the Democratic gubernatorial candidate, and tomorrow it would be back to Phillips.
In Minnesota, it is particularly easy to register to vote, early voting has already begun and voters can request absentee ballots on demand. On the weekend before the election, city hall and polling locations will be open for business, and it’s possible to register to vote and cast your ballot on the same day – up to and including November 6th.
Stan has been impressed with the support and preparation from both Common Purpose and the local Democratic-Farmer-Labor office. “The educational materials are consistent with other campaigns I’ve worked on, and the skits and training were right on.” He advises new volunteers to come prepared for anything and be ready to roll with the punches. “Know that the people you are working with are very committed. And if you have any fear, after the first couple of doors, you’ll remember you’re just talking to neighbors.”
Written by Christena Coutsoubos