Everyone loves an underdog. From the 1980 Men’s US Hockey Team to Buster Douglas, an underdog rises up against the odds to shock the world—moving mountains and shattering expectations.
This summer, I have had the opportunity to work with an underdog, though at the rate she’s climbing in the polls, I’m not so sure if that title fits anymore
. Alyse Galvin is an independent, Alaskan candidate running for Congress against Don Young—the Dean of the House and the longest-serving Republican congressman in history. Young has been in office since 1973—three years before my dad was born—and yikes. . .that’s a long time (Dad, if you’re reading this, you’re getting kind of ol—I mean wise haha).
This is my second year on her campaign, and her character continues to amaze. A resolute devotion to bettering Alaska’s educational system pushed her to run, and prior to campaigning for congress, Alyse saved over $200 million in budget cuts from Alaskan public schools. She is a superhero.
While the rest of the United States drifts apart, she strives to bring people together. As a center-left candidate, her campaign accepted me, the head of Groton’s Young Republicans club, as an intern and opened my eyes to what politics could be like: Across the aisle cooperation to enact real change. So many politicians are just words, but Alyse is more than that: She is a beacon of hope for bipartisanship and a woman of action.
When she launched her campaign last year
, I was one of the few people on staff, so I became a “jack of all trades”—doing everything from running errands for campaign events to organizing a thank-you note initiative. This time around, however, things were a little different.
In late April, I returned to the campaign as a virtual field intern. I reported to Nick Mack, one of the head organizers in the field, and alongside my fellow interns, Miguel and Gus, I jumped back into the world of Alaskan politics. I was tasked with making thirty calls a day, recruiting volunteers into the fray, and presenting Alyse’s platform to people from across the state. Every Tuesday, I helped Nick run a “phonebank” by coaching volunteers on campaign policies, values-based conversation, and the art of persuasion.
On Wednesdays, relational organizing was our focus. We hosted meetings on statewide strategy and increasing voter turnout. House meetings—programs where volunteers could invite their friends to an informational Q&A session with campaign officials—were another part of our agenda and prepping the volunteer hosts became a task that Gus, Miguel, and I could tackle together. As a team, we dove into the internship—learning from each other every step of the way.
In a given day, I could speak to people from Bethel to Utqiagvik to Juneau and everywhere in between. Alaska is a huge state with an incredibly diverse people, and with coronavirus preventing the campaign from meeting in person, we had to find creative ways to reach potential voters. Luckily, our biggest impediment actually turned out to be a huge benefit. Travel costs are expensive in Alaska, but in an era when nearly everyone has a phone or computer, communication was not as difficult as it initially seemed. By conducting meetings virtually, we were able to establish a widespread, active, and enthusiastic supporter network.