Campaigns reboot after Sandy

Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (L) shows Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus (R) and U.S. Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) (C) an iPad with an image of Hurricane Sandy aboard the campaign bus en route to a campaign rally on October 29, 2012 in Avon Lake, Ohio. Romney has canceled other campaign events on October 29 and 30 due to Hurricane Sandy.

The campaigns are making their last push, but Sandy threw a wrench in their plans.

At this point, it’s late in the game, and Craig Smith, who was the deputy campaign manager of President Clinton’s reelection effort, says the campaigns have already pulled the trigger on a lot of stuff.

“You have tens of thousands of people already deployed in certain locations,” he says. “You have phone calls bought. You have television advertising bought. You have radio bought.”

And all that is expensive. Still, campaigns will do what they can to adjust their tactics.

“You know, it’s almost like sailing a boat,” Smith says. “You know which way you want to sail, but, you know, the wind changes.”

And boy did it!

Today, in the aftermath of Sandy, it was hard to get a hold of elections officials. I did get a hold of Stephanie Salvatore, the superintendent of elections in Gloucester County.

“We had paper ballots,” she says. “We had books with voters’ names, if we couldn’t get to a computer. The worst-case scenario, we would have been hand counting all the ballots.”

The county budgeted for that after Sept. 11.

In Mercer County, where the power is still out and there is a lot left to do, Paul Donini, who is on the board of elections, has been delivering voting machines, making sure polling places are accessible. He will work through the weekend, if he needs to. 

“With this curveball thrown at us, God only knows what the extra expenses are going to be,” Donini says, adding he expects Mercer County will apply for a FEMA grant, to take care of those costs.

About the author

David Gura is a reporter for Marketplace, based in the Washington, D.C. bureau.

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