Barbara Bollier for Kansas Campaign, Mission, KS
This summer, I participated in the Fellowship Program of Barbara Bollier’s Campaign for U.S. Senator from Kansas. Barbara is a Democrat running for a Senate seat that has been red since 1932, and her candidacy has drawn national attention because of her fundraising success and the possibility of bringing Kansas back into contention in the fight for the Senate. This fellowship is an innovative program because it combines traditional campaign volunteer duties with training and information sessions to give fellows the knowledge and skills needed to work on future campaigns. The program aims to give back to the region by training future Democratic campaign staffers, of which there is a shortage currently. There were some projects, like finance research and phone banking, in which all fellows participated; but, as one staffer pointed out, a fellowship is what you make of it, meaning it is often up to each fellow to reach out to staff members and express their interest in projects in specific departments. Because we were working remotely, I had to become more self-sufficient in my work from any earlier stage.
The project that occupied the majority of my time was research for the Finance Department. The work was tedious at times but also required problem-solving and research ingenuity. I also kept in mind that finances are the base of any political campaign as the other departments cannot function without funds. The fundraising record that Barbara set this summer is a testament to the strength of her ability, the Finance Team, and—I would like to think—the efforts of the fellows. As I learned, my experience was similar to that of the candidates themselves, who usually spend more time on fundraising than on any other aspect of the campaign. In the early weeks of the summer, I was named Research Captain, meaning I helped other fellows with questions or problems that arose in their research projects, and I found this to be one of the most rewarding parts of the experience.
In my academic pursuits at Williams, I have studied various aspects of American politics, including campaigns and political sentiment, however my experience on the Bollier campaign has given me a much deeper view into the workings of a campaign. Courses on politics often treat politicians simply as political actors, yet I was able to see the personal side of this candidate. Furthermore, by talking and texting with voters, I was able to learn about the specific political views and priorities that each person has. In general, Kansas tends to defy blanket political characterization, and, as I found out, each Kansan has their own brand of politics. Based on this experience, I hope to pursue a career in or related to politics in the future.
I would like the thank the Estate of George Mead for sponsoring my fellowship and ’68 Center for Career Exploration for organizing the entire program; I had an incredible summer experience.