A Campaign Diary, Part II: Brian Aldaco

Brian Aldaco is a freshman at SHSU who spent the last month in upstate New York working on a congressional campaign.  For a student who hadn’t spent much time outside of his home state, it was a great window into the world of politics and the opportunities of travel. 

This blog entry is his second addressing the campaign work he did in June 2016.

As the culmination of the New York District 19 Republican Primary drew near, campaign volunteers were tasked to muster up every single ounce of energy to go through our block walking assignments and ensure a Heaney victory.  As before, this included going to the various towns and villages of the district; from the Hudson Valley and through Catskill Mountains we marched from house to house in hopes of being heard.


Additionally, as a means to operate more effectively, we were  relocated to a country home in the candidate’s home town of Millbrook. With creaking wooden floors, book shelves filled with literature, and antique house decorations, we could get a feel for the home’s historic spirit. This also allowed us to experience the region’s house culture, which is replete with historic homes.  In fact, it’s not uncommon to see the year the home was built on or near the doors of the homes, with many of the years dating back to the 19th century.

Two days before the election we came together to phone bank. This tedious process included being placed on a call queue, waiting for a voter to answer, and hope that the prospective voter doesn’t hang up or yell at you.  Although these were common responses, we continued to call, ever eager to reach out to voters.  On Monday, alone, we were able to reach 1,600 voters.

As dawn broke on June 28, we awoke with a sense of excitement. Finally, the day we had all been working for had come. Finally, our month-long work was about to pay off, to hopefully gain a victory. With these high hopes, we drove 45 minutes to campaign headquarters, in Hyde Park.

Inside the office, decorated with pictures of Winston Churchill and FDR, we were tasked with completing phone banks. Thus began one of the most extensive endeavors in which I had ever participated. By this time, the voters had begun to tire of the frequent calls from candidates’ staffs, and they let us know it–loudly and frequently.  The day progressed, and an assignment of 500 calls morphed into an assignment of 600 calls, then 1,000.  Collectively, we became a calling machine, reaching more than 20,000 voters in a two-day period.

At 7:30, with a sore, throbbing ear and exhausted vocal cords, I regrouped with the volunteers, Joe Williams, and Campaign Manager David O’Connell for one last briefing. It had all come to a close; there was no more we could do but wait for the polling results and head on over to Mr. Heaney’s viewing party.

As we crossed the threshold of the bar and grill we stepped into an assembly of celebrating campaign sympathizers and friends. No matter what the polling results would yield, we had all worked just as hard, the campaign had become our purpose, every single door we had knocked and number we had dialed, we did so as to ensure Mr. Heaney’s victory. For a month we had become the campaign and on that night it would end.


As the Congressional District 19’s results were posted it was evident that our candidate was not receiving the support it needed to win the primary. After the majority of precincts reported the results, it was clear that Mr. Heaney would not make it to the general election.

Nonetheless, we all held our head high with pride. For the volunteers, it was the first time we had worked in such an extensive campaign. Even though I was not able to see my candidate win the primary, I was just as grateful for being part of his efforts. We all learned an extensive amount of the political world that we could not learned anywhere else. For that reason alone I am grateful to Grassroots Consultant Joe Williams, Campaign Manager David O’Connell, and Mr. Andrew Heaney.


Author: mikeyawn

Mike Yawn teaches at Sam Houston State University. In the past few years, he has taught courses on Politics & Film, Public Policy, the Presidency, Media & Politics, Congress, Statistics, Research & Writing, Field Research, and Public Opinion. He has published academic papers in the Journal of Politics, Political Behavior, Social Security Quarterly, Film & History, American Politics Review, and contributed a chapter to the textbook Politics and Film. He also contributes columns, news analysis, and news stories to newspapers such as the Houston Chronicle, San Antonio Express News, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Stamford Advocate, Greenwich Time, Huron Daily Tribune, Laredo Morning Times, Beaumont Enterprise, Connecticut Post, and Midland Reporter Telegram. Yawn is also active in his local community, serving on the board of directors of the local YMCA and Friends of the Wynne. Previously, he served on the Huntsville's Promise and Stan Musial World Series Boards of Directors. In 2007-2008, Yawn was one of eight scholars across the nation named as a Carnegie Civic Engagement Scholar by the Carnegie Foundation.

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