The Berkeley County Democratic Executive Committee headquarters opened on Friday.
Today, Clem and I both attended the opening today of the Barack Obama headquarters in Martinsburg. Clem took the photos at both events.
Obama HQ opening in Martinsburg.
There are now nine Obama for President headquarter offices in West Virginia, staffed by professionals and volunteers. (Senator Clinton has one in Charleston.)
Sen. Jay Rockefeller spoke at today's Martinsburg event about why he feels so strongly that Obama should be elected president.
Senator Rockefeller and Rep. Nick Rahall are stumping across WV for Obama.
Rockefeller at today's event.
Obama's first move in the state was to meet with 15 of the most conservative ministers in southern West Virginia, Rockefeller said.
It was right after the Rev. Wright controversy and despite that, one of the ministers asked if Obama had taken the oath of office on the Koran (an odd question, particularly since so much attention had been given to the statements from the pulpit of Obama's Christian minister).
Instead of dismissing the question, Obama tackled their questions head-on, Rockefeller said. Obama has confidence in himself and is comfortable with who he is.
"I trust him," Rockefeller said several times.
While I worry sometimes about Rockefeller's judgement on FISA and other matters, I do think that as a popular Democratic senator in the state his validation of Obama will carry sway with many voters. The same is true of Rahall, who is extremely popular in southern West Virginia.
I counted more than 65 people there at the time of Rockefeller's arrival in the afternoon. Several people were still out canvassing and others were next door at the Berkeley County Democratic Executive Committee's headquarters since the Obama hq front room was packed during Rockefeller's speech.
The primary is May 13 but early voting has begun in the state.
While there have now been more signs of Sen. Hillary Clinton's support - a few sign wavers showed up at Friday's event - the effort from her campaign has lagged here in West Virginia despite polls showing her with a lead on Obama overall.
The first email to West Virginia supporters from the West Virginia campaign director came two days after the state held its county conventions to select delegates to the state convention.
In my county, Berkeley, it was 50 out of 52 delegates for Obama.
What that shows is the enthusiasm gap in WV between Obama and Clinton. The Democratic chairs and activists are nearly all in support of Obama across the state despite the fact the polls show Clinton leading by a comfortable margin in West Virginia.
That has resulted in Obama volunteers being much more active at voter registrations, canvassing and phonebanking.
However, the demographics in the state - a state predominantly white with a large percentage of seniors due to the state's friendly tax laws for older people (it's become a good state for people to retire to, like Florida but without terrible drivers and with fewer hurricanes, though the occasional remnants of the storms do cause occasional flooding here - but not like in Florida which also is plagued by Floridians and alligators).
I disagree with the assessment of DHinMI and others who believe Clinton leads because of racism. While it is true that some West Virginians are racist, it is wrong to say that is why Clinton leads. I believe it's much more complicated than that. Saying it is race relies overmuch on a stereotyped view of the state and of Appalachia in general. McDowell County, the literal heart of Appalachia, is represented by an African American in the House of Delegates. I'll admit others, including a commenter on West Virginia Blue, believe like DHinMI that Clinton's lead is due to the race factor. But I believe better of West Virginians and the vast majority of Clinton's supporters. As I mentioned, the demographics of the state means a large number of seniors who have generally fallen towards Clinton live here. But also I believe many West Virginians see Clinton as bringing a third Bill Clinton term, and many West Virginians liked the Big Dog. He carried the state both times even though the state later went to George W. Bush over Al Gore in 2000.
Still, there's no denying that the vast majority of Democratic activists in the state, the ones who are out campaign after campaign cycle, are much more behind Obama than Clinton. That is certainly one reason why the Obama campaign has such a lead on organizing at the county and precinct levels than the Clinton campaign.
Fellow West Virginia Blue front pager's wvblueguy's report from another Obama event today in his Mercer County details some of the activity.
Commenters at HillaryClinton.com's West Virginia web page were getting anxious about her campaign's slow start.
* I signed up months ago to volunteer for Hillary here in WV. I have never been contacted. I am concerned with the BO presence I am seeing in Charleston and so little Hillary presence. Let's get things going for Hillary!
by west virginia for hillary at 4/14/2008 7:32:21 PM
Does anyone know of any planned rally or event. There is no organization.
by touche at 4/22/2008 6:10:44 PM
I took the advice of fellow posters and have signed up again as a volunteer. My son and I are also traveling to PA this weekend to help in Pittsburgh. We also want to be active here in the Charleston area. I would like to organize some honk/wave groups at major intersections at least for the weekend/Monday before the May 13th primary. Plus, can we get some signs around Charleston and at some other key locations in the state? I just spent 8 hours on the road (traveling in WV) and did not see one Hillary sign. BO signs are all over the east end of Charleston.(emphasis mine. carnacki) I don't mean to be negative, but I want those who quietly support Hillary to know that there is strong, active support for her in WV. Thanks WV campaign staff for doing what you can.
by west virginia for hillary at 4/17/2008 5:27:22 PM
I am originally from WV and have HAVE campaigned in NY where I live and in Ohio and PENN. I HAVE TRIED TO GET SOMETHING GOING IN THE MERCER AND SURROUNDING COUNTIES AREA, BUT NOTHING IS HAPPENING. THE MAYOR OF HINTON IS WITH ME, BUT OBAMA HAS A REAL HEAD START. WE CAN'T LOSE THIS STATE. THE NEW CAMPAIGN MANAGER HAS NOT RESPONDED TO MY MESSAGES FOR HELP. ANYTHING GOING ANYONE KNOWS OF PLEASE POST. WE MUST WORK FAST!!!!!!!QQQQ
by touche at 4/22/2008 12:43:03 PM
I don't believe Clinton will lose, but by the best estimates of those who've really looked at the numbers and the way WV's primary is set up is Clinton gaining +2 to +6 in delegates - nothing to cause a dent in Obama's delegate lead.
Clem, who is a pretty fair judge, estimated the Obama sign wavers outnumbered the Clinton sign wavers by about 4-to-1 on Friday. The sign wavers stretched down the main north-south thoroughfare of the downtown, King Street.
Senator Clinton sign wavers.
Senator Obama supporters
However, at the Berkeley County Democratic Women's Association meeting on Friday night, the Clinton supporters did outnumber the Obama supporters, I'm told, though I did not hear any numbers in attendance.
Gov. Joe Manchin, who as a superdelegate also is said to hold sway over two other superdelegate votes, attended both events and I know supporters of both candidates were trying to impress him. He has remained uncommitted so far.
In addition, the Obama campaign's first television commercial has aired in West Virginia.
In the Eastern Panhandle, which has become an exurb of the D.C. area with half of the work force commuting to D.C., suburban Maryland and northern Virginia each day, the commercial which focuses on gasoline prices should be highly effective. It should also play well in other parts of the state where it can require a lengthy car trip to the nearest supermarket.
I've not seen or heard of any Clinton ads yet in the state, but there would have been some crossover from the Pennsylvania race from both campaigns, particularly in the northern panhandle which is part of the Pittsburgh media market.UPDATE
In debating this with DHinMI at DailyKos, he asked why Obama has done his poorest in Appalachian counties and lower income white voters that have already voted if it's not racism.
Regarding Appalachian support for Clinton, it has much more to do with those who are low income or poor feel extremely insecure about the present economy and the future. They are exactly the most likely to find Senator Clinton the most appealing because they see her as a third Bill Clinton term. They felt more secure economically and did better economically when he was president than they do now.
Obama is an unknown entity to them. When you're at the end of your rope, you want to reach out for safety not the unknown.
Certainly race is a factor with some. And I'm sure the commenters can find many anecdotes to agree that it is race.
The problem is writing it all off as race oversimplified it and ignores the much bigger and more complex issues.
It's not race as nearly much as it is class issues. But that's an even harder issue for people to tackle.
I also believe once people hear Obama for themselves in Appalachia, they'll find his economic message very appealing to them. The color that matters most to those who feel insecure about the high price of food, gasoline and the loss of jobs is the color green