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Fri January 4, 2013
After the Election, What Happens to the Volunteers?
It was a historic week in Massachusetts politics, as Elizabeth Warren was sworn in as the first woman senator from Massachusetts.
Looking back, it took unprecedented work from thousands of volunteers to help Warren get elected, and one of them, Nina Wootan of Belmont, was moved to tears when she watched her candidate being sworn into office.
Like the other volunteers who spent weeks knocking on doors for Warren, Wootan thought she had heard the last of Republican Scott Brown, and she planned to hang up her volunteer hat for good.
But, Wootan’s attitude has changed along with the state’s shifting political landscape now that Democrats are preparing for a special election if Senator John Kerry is confirmed as secretary of state.
“If Scott Brown decides to run again, I will definitely be out campaigning for somebody else for the special election,” Wootan said.
That means volunteers like Wootan – who were exhausted by the knock down drag out fight for the Senate - could potentially run into exhausted voters, like the Warren supporter who answered the door at her Cambridge home on the weekend before election day and asked Nina to have the campaign take her name off the list of voters left to be canvassed.
Wootan believes volunteers may have recovered from their exhaustion by now, but she said the next Democratic candidate for the Senate shouldn’t expect them to turn out in droves, as they did for Warren.
“You know, I think the volunteers of Massachusetts are pretty resilient," Wootan said. "I think enough time has passed that people will get out and volunteer. I don’t think it will be quite in the same way as it was in the general election. It’s going to have to be done in a different way. You’re not going to be able to have canvassing every day.”
U.S. Rep. Ed Markey is the first Democrat to declare so far. While Wootan is willing to volunteer again, she said serving in the state’s congressional delegation alone isn’t enough for a candidate to win her over.
“It really has to be about their issues and their beliefs, in order to get my support you have to be a pretty good person, a good politician, you have to care about the issues I care about,” she said.
Right now those issues are gun control – especially a federal ban on assault weapons - and job creation. Wootan’s joy over seeing Senator Warren go to Washington is tempered by her concerns about the economy. While Wootan now has more time to look for work, she wants the woman she devoted her life to last fall to help her and other underemployed and unemployed Americans find a job and earn a living wage.