WASHINGTON — After months of campaigning for the Democratic presidential candidate, who was the underdog in conservative Hall County, local Democrats will have their heyday today.
Numerous "Campaign for Change" volunteers who spent much of the summer registering voters and much of this fall asking for voters’ support today celebrate the fruits of their labor in Washington, D.C., as they see President-elect Barack Obama sworn into office.
"Today (Monday) we’ve seen people coming through getting (inauguration) tickets that are very excited about what’s happening and about their government," said U.S. Rep. Nathan Deal, R-Gainesville.
When Hall County Democratic Party volunteers Latasha Simmons, Angela Middleton, Diana Dokken and Jennifer Gordon watch from the lawn of the U.S. Capitol as Obama raises his right hand and takes the oath of office today, they can take pride in knowing they played a part in getting him there.
Simmons said she started campaigning for Obama in September, and was determined to turn the tide of Hall County voters from a Republican majority to a Democratic majority.
"We worked very hard," Simmons said from the nation’s capital. "I didn’t volunteer thinking that we weren’t going to win Hall County or Georgia. And I kept campaigning because when I start something, I like to finish it."
Simmons drove to Washington on Saturday with Middleton, Dokken and Gordon. Simmons said she’ll be celebrating the Democrats’ victory as well as what she believes to be a bright future for America.
"I’m very excited because I know there will be new changes, and (Obama) will work hard for all Americans of all ages and all nationalities. I think it’s good not only for the United States but for internationally as well," Simmons said.
Simmons thinks Obama could increase bipartisanship in Washington. "In spite of what we’re going through now, I think things are going to work out," she said. "... Even though Georgia isn’t a blue state, I think Republicans and Democrats and independents will come together to assist the new president in his leadership."
Abb Hayes, who was the chairman of the Hall County Democratic Party during the election, said he feels the new president is bringing a sense of optimism to the White House.
"I feel like this is a breath of fresh air after what we’ve been facing these last eight years," Hayes said. "It’s a great day for Democrats and Obama supporters, but it’s also a great day for America."
Hayes said he hopes the groundswell of support Americans are expressing for the incoming president will bolster Obama to get the nation going in the right direction despite the dire challenges facing the nation.
Deal also said that much opportunity lies before Obama. "I think it offers the new president an opportunity to set a direction for this country that will change a lot of people’s attitude about it," he said.