The Ground Game

The Ground Game

by | Jun 30, 2024 | From the Campaign Trail

Progress starts with pushing back

I spent the week before last in Middle Valley, knocking doors and planting signs. The more I heard “I’ve seen your signs around,” the more people told me they’d take a sign too. It was interesting to see my ground game working in real time.

I keep saying things feel different this year. The increased appetite for yard signs is one of those things. When I ran in 2022, supporters routinely told me they’d been quiet about their politics since having an Obama yard sign stolen or vandalized. We lost a lot by ceding that ground.

What’s obvious to me now is that more Tennesseans are worried about extremism and willing to push back—like the Middle Valley man who took a yard sign after telling me he didn’t do yard signs.

Until he said that, it hadn’t occurred to me to offer him one. He’d been cautious just opening the door. He wasn’t a big talker, but he told me he didn’t like the hard right turn our state government has taken. 

When he mentioned the abortion ban, I noted that Republicans voted down an exception for girls twelve and under. That’s something I talk about a lot because we’re not talking about it, and it shows how far and fast extremism can move when you don’t push back. Just two years ago it would have been unthinkable that any first-world government would inflict such trauma on traumatized children. Now here we are. 

“I’ve had three little girls. I’ve been a little girl. I think that’s a human rights violation,” I said.

“I think it is,” the man said. Then he offered what I realized was tacit endorsement. “I don’t do yard signs.” He attempted a smile. “I don’t want to get shot.” 

I hear that joke a lot.

I pulled out my phone and showed him a map of his neighborhood, sprinkled with blue dots. “You realize you’re not the only Democrat around here, right?”

I told him that I’d been knocking doors all over since March, that I’d just canvassed my opponent’s subdivision and planted a few signs on his street. I said anyone on the side of forcing children to have children needs to feel a little heat.

The man was quiet, then he motioned toward his front yard. “Go ahead.”

“You sure?”

He nodded. 

I thanked him, grabbed a sign and a hammer from my trunk, and walked down to the where the yard met the road.

If you live in State House District 26, you can help my ground game by requesting a yard sign—we deliver!—or by donating a few dollars to cover the cost of a sign. Click to donate, volunteer, or get a yard sign.