Bernie Sanders campaign office opens in Bowling Green

Chris Peters (from left), 24, of Bowling Green, is helped by Field Organizer and Office Manager Daniel Deriso, 23, of Birmingham, Al., and Jonathan Taylor, 22, of Bowling Green get set up for phone banking on April 31st 2016 in Bowling Green, Ky. “I believe in him more than any other candidate for his ability to change the political structure,” said Peters. This was Peters first time phone banking. The office opened to drum up support before the Kentucky Democratic primary on May 17. Michael Noble Jr./HERALD

Brittiny Moore

Welcomed by a bright red door, two blue “Bernie Sanders for President” posters rested on either side of the frame. Walking inside, you would have no doubt that the Bernie Sanders campaign had come to Bowling Green.

The air was filled with the smell of pizza, and people from all walks of life stood around in circles donned in “Feel the Bern” tops. More blue Sanders posters were scattered around the nearly bare room, and a single hand-drawn bust of Sanders rested on the wall.

Daniel Deriso, field organizer for the Sanders campaign, said polls seem promising in Kentucky, so the campaign decided to open a field office in the area at 2317 Russellville Rd.

The Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting reported that Sanders raised $126,639 from Kentucky donors in March.

This was more than the combined receipts of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Ohio Gov. John Kasich.

“The internal polls look good in Kentucky,” Deriso said. “If we have a good GOTV, we’re going to win this state.”

GOTV, or “Get out the vote,” is used in campaigns to increase the numbers of votes for an election. This is accomplished by canvassing to voters to help inform voters of campaign ideals. Canvassing usually includes calling and going door-to-door as a way to spread the information to the voters.

“I think Kentucky is especially engaged in a way that I haven’t seen in a couple of the other states that I’ve been in,” Kass Bessert, director of the Sanders campaign in Kentucky, said in an interview with the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting. “We’re seeing people get involved in politics who have never felt empowered or involved to this extent.”

Sen. Sanders’ campaign announced that he will be holding a rally in Louisville Tuesday on the Big Four Lawn in Louisville’s Waterfront Park, according to the Herald-Leader.

The very same day, former President Bill Clinton will be campaigning for his wife in Morehead, Lexington and Louisville. Monday, Hillary Clinton visited Ashland on a campaign stop as well.

Alisa Christian, 34, of Owensboro has been volunteering and canvassing since August 2015.

“I’m very excited about it,” Christian said. “It helps get resources to get votes for Bernie.”

Christian said her favorite part was getting to talk to people about Bernie Sanders.

“We want to get people to realize there’s a lot of support for Bernie,” Christian said. “It’s all over; it’s diverse.”

According to Deriso, about 35 to 50 doors per volunteer per day is the ideal figure that is needed. Along with that, around 50 to 100 calls need to be made per volunteer.

Deriso said the office is scoping out democratic voters in the area so the office can campaign to the right people.

“We want to get other volunteers at the grass root levels,” Deriso said.

In democratic primaries and caucuses, delegates are awarded proportionately to the percentage of votes gained in each state. Deriso said the goal of the campaign is to win as many delegates as they can.

“GOTV can make or break an election,” Deriso said.

May 17 is the date of Kentucky’s primary, which is a closed primary. With the primary being closed, only voters registered as democrat can vote for Sanders. Kentucky has 55 delegates for the two competing democrats to claim. 

“An overwhelming number of Americans are switching to independent,” Deriso said. “It’s ridiculous that they are not being able to vote.”