Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton Intensify Ohio Campaigns Before March Primary

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by Nick Castele

There’s a month to go before Ohio’s presidential primaries, and Democratic candidates Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton are expanding their reach into the state.

This weekend in a storefront campaign office in Lakewood, 24-year-old Brittany Dobish was calling Ohio voters.

“Hi, my name is Brittany, I’m a volunteer for the Bernie Sanders campaign from Ohio, how are you today?” she said, asking if the person on the other end of the line would be voting March 15.

Local Sanders supporters opened this space in early January, volunteer coordinator Steve Holecko said. They’ve been making calls into Iowa, New Hampshire—and now Ohio.

This week, he said, this operation will start working more closely with the official Sanders campaign. With the help of the campaign’s money and voter data, local volunteers will seek out supporters and get them out to vote.

“Either through a phone call or a knock on the door, ‘I’m a volunteer for the Bernie Sanders campaign, can Bernie count on your support?’” Holecko said. “If the answer’s yes, say, ‘That’s good to hear, can you do volunteer work?’ If the answer is I don't know, then you got to get into a conversation.”

About two miles away, on the other side of Lakewood, a different office is opening. Activists and elected officials crowded into a small room to mark the opening of a volunteer office for Hillary Clinton in a local herb, incense and jewelry store called Goddess Blessed.

“We are definitely doing the phone banking. That will start next Thursday officially,” Kristine Pagsuyoin with Cuyahoga4Hillary said. She said this is one of the first such offices to open in the area.

A Clinton campaign field organizer, who said he had recently arrived from New Hampshire, introduced himself to supporters at the event this weekend.

Early voting for the March 15 primary begins this Wednesday. And both candidates plan to make their closing arguments in Ohio about a month from now. The Ohio Democratic Party says Clinton and Sanders will speak at a fundraiser in Columbus the weekend before the polls close. 

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