September 2, 2014

Elyria
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76°F
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Campaigners making their final pushes

Voters weary of presidential election year politics only have three more days to endure the relentless campaigning.

Even some of the candidates are ready for it to end.

“We are kind of ready for it to be over, probably just as much, if not more, than the voters are,” Richard Ramsey, a Republican attorney running to become a Domestic Relations Court judge, said.

But with time running out to win hearts, minds and votes, the politicians and their supporters show no signs of letting up.

Ohio remained awash in campaign ads blaring from televisions and radios. Campaign mailers filled mailboxes as candidates knocked on doors and stumped at local gatherings.

Campaign volunteers manned phone banks for President Barack Obama and his Republican opponent Mitt Romney, even as their candidates and surrogates continued to make appearances across the state. Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson’s campaign deployed robocalls in an effort to boost support for his candidacy.

“The North Coast will really decide this election, a lot of people think, and we’re not going to leave one vote unturned,” said Steve Katich, spokesman for U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur, D-Toledo, who started Saturday campaigning in Oregon, Ohio, before winding her way east through stops in Amherst and Lorain and ending the night in Cleveland.

Kaptur’s Republican rival, Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher, better known as “Joe the Plumber,” didn’t return a call seeking comment Saturday, but he sent an email Friday urging them to donate money to his election effort.

Sean Stipe, the Libertarian in the race, said he, too, continues to try to win over voters by attending events at supporters’ homes to talk to small groups of people.
Lorain County Commissioner Ted Kalo, a Democrat who plans to go door-to-door and attend events in the final days of the campaign, said he’s actually going to miss campaigning. He said he genuinely enjoys talking to voters.

“I’m actually kind of sad,” Kalo said. “I don’t know where I’m going to eat Wednesday.”

Amherst City Councilman Phil Van Treuren, the Republican challenging Kalo, said he’s devoted much of the past week to going door-to-door in Elyria, although he acknowledged that superstorm Sandy put a damper on some of those efforts.

“I haven’t been able to do as much door-to-door as I would like, but I compensated for that by sending more mailers,” Van Treuren said.

Missed days on the trail wasn’t the only effect the storm had on the campaign season.

Democratic judicial candidate Frank Janik, who was hitting five dinner events Saturday night, said he and his supporters were doing physical labor during the day.

“We repaired and replaced signs thanks to Hurricane Sandy,” he said.

Commissioner Lori Kokoski, a Democrat, said she plans to attend some events today, but she spent Saturday catching up on things around her Avon Lake home.

Although she said she didn’t lose power, her sister, brother-in-law and their two kids are staying with her because they have no electricity at their house.

Kokoski said she doesn’t put much effort into a last-minute scramble for votes.

“Hopefully people know by now what they’re going to do,” she said.

Her Republican opponent, Columbia Township Trustee Mike Musto, said he had a packed schedule both Saturday and today. He plans to check on his yard signs Monday, but beyond that there’s not much he can do at this point.

“Everything’s done,” he said. “Anything that we’re going to do is done.”

The presidential campaigns don’t see it that way, particularly given that Ohio is considered a crucial swing state by both the Obama and Romney campaigns.

“The inertia’s just awesome,” said Jennifer Fenderbosch, who helps run the Lorain County Republican Party Victory Center in Avon Lake, between calls to voters urging them to vote for Romney.

Arlene Glowe and her husband, Dave Glowe, sat a few chairs away from each other at the phone bank making calls. Neither of them had volunteered for a campaign before Saturday.

“I have never gotten involved like this, but I feel like we have to take a stand and make a change for the better,” Arlene Glowe said.

Elaine Grillo and Linda Fischer flew into Cleveland on Thursday night from their homes in New Jersey so they could campaign for Romney in a swing state. Obama is widely expected to carry New Jersey.

They said they had planned the trip before Sandy slammed into New Jersey. Grillo said her house was damaged by the storm, but she came anyway.

“We thought we could make a difference,” Grillo said. “We visited close to 200 houses in two days.”

Over at the Obama for America office in Lorain, the volunteers were just as enthusiastic about their phone calls and canvassing efforts.

“I truly believe in what President Obama stands for,” volunteer Jackie Rutledge of Lorain said. “He’s still doing his best to look out for the middle class and the 47 percent that some people just don’t feel are important.”

Jessica Kershaw, an Obama campaign spokeswoman, said the Democratic ground game is key to the president’s re-election efforts and will continue apace over the final portion of the campaign.

Today the Obama campaign is hosting a series of “Souls to Polls” events that will focus on getting churchgoers to vote early. Former San Antonio Mayor Henry Cisneros will be in Lorain County as part of that endeavor.

The efforts on both sides to get voters to the polls early appear to have worked

County Board of Elections Director Paul Adams said so far this year, 16,200 voters have cast their ballots early at the board’s offices, well above the 2008 total of 14,367 in-office early votes. Another 25,210 mail-in ballots had been received by the board as of Thursday, he said.

Early voting continues 1 to 5 p.m. today and 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday at the board’s offices, 1985 North Ridge Road in Sheffield Township.

Contact Brad Dicken at 329-7147 or bdicken@chroniclet.com.