Sunday, June 17, 2018

Orange County: Canvassing for Katie Porter

We are liberal Democrats who have felt dismay while watching the GOP tear down the US government to make themselves richer at the expense of our environment and the majority of US citizens. So we decided we wanted to get involved in flipping the US House of Representatives to a Democrat majority by volunteering on a campaign. Our choice was congressional candidate Katie Porter at first because she was endorsed by Elizabeth Warren.

In December we reached out to Katie Porter's campaign to volunteer, and we were warmly received. In mid-April we arrived in Orange County, excited to hit the ground running. Here Pete is with Erica Kwiatkowski, Katie Porter's Campaign Manager at campaign headquarters.

Courtney Hamilton, Field Director for Katie Porter, was our boss and she gave us an orientation on our first day. Her assistant Danny Siegel (in the orange shirt) helped us get ready to canvass. Immediately we saw that Courtney had tons of experience on campaigns and we soaked up her knowledge so we could use it to canvass for Katie Porter.

Courtney showed us a map of the precincts in CA-45, Katie Porter's district where we would be canvassing. She had colored each precinct based on the percentage of Democrats. We saw lots of red, orange and yellow precincts near the house in Tustin we were renting, which meant there would be lots of Democrats to talk to about supporting Katie. Our favorite twitter quote from Courtney that shows we were in great hands, “Nothing like deleting all your contact universes and reengineering an entire field program at 1am - I had forgotten how much I love this”.

We felt so welcomed by the campaign, and fortunate that we had chosen to volunteer for Katie because we wholeheartedly agreed with what Katie stands for and wanted to put our energy into helping her get elected. And it was clear that Katie's platform resonated with lots of people in the district. Her campaign office was often filled with volunteers mailing letters and making calls when we visited.

Katie was endorsed early on by our incredible Senator Kamala Harris. While Attorney General for California, Kamala had appointed Katie to oversee the National Mortgage Settlement and Katie's work enabled 11,000 families in Orange County avoid foreclosure and stay in their homes. Senator Harris's endorsement proved to be incredibly popular with the voters we talked to in this district. It felt good to be volunteering in California, a state that we are proud of for many reasons.

Here's a photo of Katie Porter on the phone talking with voters while the campaign office was filled with activity. It was inspiring to see how hard everyone was working toward the goal of helping Katie win in the primary.

It takes a lot of time to run for Congress. During the year that Katie was running, her three kids spent their weekends at campaign headquarters. Her youngest is named Betsy (after Elizabeth Warren, who is Katie's mentor and good friend) and she clearly loved her Katie Porter dress because she was wearing it every time we saw her.

We were happy to do our part, which meant canvassing every day for almost eight weeks. We knocked on more than 3,700 doors and tried to talk with 7,800 voters. One afternoon New York Times writer Ivan Penn and a photographer came along to watch us work. We told them, “This is the first time we’ve done anything like this,” and explained our canvassing process. 

Courtney's dog Minnie is very good-natured, so Minnie was dressed in a Katie Porter t-shirt and outfitted with a headset to make her look like she was calling voters. This photo was used to recruit volunteers for phone banking.

It felt great to be a part of this dedicated team that was working so hard to help Katie win the primary! Midway through the race, we saw these stats.

It was exciting to hear about new endorsements coming in. The National Nurses United endorsed Katie on May 18th.

We cheered while reading about the 15% "gender bonus" for female candidates this year.

Another exciting endorsement came from Congressman Ro Khanna who represents Silicon Valley and whose policies we also agree with.

A total of 22 progressive organizations endorsed Katie Porter, including the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. We could feel the momentum and excitement about Katie growing as we continued talking with voters.

We participated in a video about volunteers working on Katie's campaign. Here's a link to it.

Our canvassing work took us all over the district, including to some unusual streets like the intersection of Oakie Dokie and Hunky Dory.

Here's what a typical front door looked like after we had visited, complete with a flyer for Katie Porter.

We even left a flyer at this little library.

We attended an Indivisible OC debate for CA-45 to support Katie. All four of the democratic candidates participated. 

We loved seeing the candidates depicted as surfers. Here's a special shout out for #CA45BlueWave and to Lisa Pinedo and Maribeth McFaul for the artwork.

Our friends Heather and Mary told us about their experience with Indivisible West Marin making Get Out The Vote (GOTV) postcards for the California primary.

As we got closer to election day, this mirrored what we were seeing in Orange County, with events at Katie's campaign office like GOTV phone banking with her partner Democracy for America

And then it was finally June 5th, election day in California. We met the team early in the campaign office for our final GOTV push. 

Armed with flyers that showed the address of each precinct's polling place, we set out to patrol our ten precincts.

Throughout the day it was our job to keep checking who had voted in our precincts, and to roust voters to come out and vote. 

When the polls closed, we all met back at campaign headquarters for a party with Katie. It was nerve-wracking to wait to hear how many votes she had received.

Even the water bottles had Katie's name.

Katie called us "her people" because we had moved to Tustin temporarily to work on her campaign. She thanked us profusely and we felt pleased that we had been able to contribute.

As we watched the returns come in every hour or so, we were thrilled to see Katie in second place!

Around 10:30 pm campaign manager Erica brought Katie up to speak to us.

It was too early for Katie to say anything about winning, but it was clear she was trending in the right direction and we all felt optimistic. She graciously thanked everyone, including her family, her staff and her volunteers, saying that she hoped to announce "our victory" very soon.

It took another two days for enough of the mail-in ballots to be counted. Victory for Katie felt sweet! She will face off against the incumbent in the November general election and we'll keep cheering for her from where ever we are.

Because so many people in CA-45 vote by mail, counting the ballots was still happening on June 17th. This chart isn't the final count, but the huge increase in votes for Katie from 11k to over 31k, plus her percentage inching her up to 20.2%

Pete's sister Csilla and her husband Dale were brave enough to visit us while we were working on the campaign. They even agreed to spend some time at the campaign headquarters stuffing envelopes.

We made time for some fun with them too. We drove out to Inspiration Point and enjoyed the sunset.

We ate tacos at Puesto on Cinco de Mayo.

Csilla celebrated with a margarita, and we all enjoyed the patio-like restaurant.

Dale helped us start Yayoi Kusama's Pumpkin puzzle that we had brought back from Japan.

Pete was determined to finish the puzzle while we were in Orange County. In this photo everything except the infinity web border is complete.

And here's a photo of the completed puzzle. It was the hardest puzzle we've every done.

We visited The Broad and saw Yayoi Kusama's newest infinity room there entitled Longing for Infinity. You can see Kristina peeking through the porthole on the left while Pete takes a photo.

It was fun to peer into the chamber filled with mirrors and changing LED lights.

We also got to see Mark Bradford's Yellow Bird from 2012.

Nearby at the Sprüth Magers gallery was a Robert Irwin exhibit. In the main gallery, Irwin had removed the walls to create Untitled using synthetic fabric, wood, black pigment, tint, honeycomb aluminum, polyester primer. 

This photo shows how solid the scrims look when painted dark colors.

Artists Shepard Fairey and Vhils teamed up last February to complete the American Dreamers mural. Focusing on images of immigrant women, Shepard painted and Vhils chiseled the faces representing different generations.

Another time we happened upon a colorful mural in progress.

It was a treat for us to be in one place for two months. We took on some fermentation projects like komboucha and kimchi.

And Pete made Mexican pickles.

We met up with friends in Long Beach who we had met on a Malaysian durian tour last January. Loren holding a Musang King durian that she brought to share with us.

But first we ate dinner together. This is Hannah and her boyfriend Jason. It was great to catch up with them.

Pete ordered the Durian Addict drink of durian and coconut milk. It was delicious.

And here's the whole group after dinner. From left are Derek and Loren, Hannah and Jason, Pete and Kristina, and Loren's roommate Brian.

We went outside the restaurant to enjoy some after dinner durian, or ADD as it was affectionately called on the durian tour. Loren did the honors of opening the fruit and we all enjoyed a piece.

But we wanted more, so we went together to buy more Malaysian Musang King!

Although Hannah was tempted by a fresh Monthong durian.

We decided to stick with Musang King and bought the durian that Pete's holding. It's quite a bit more expensive in the US than in Malaysia. This little gem cost $22.

But it was worth it because it tasted delicious. Musang King are the only durian we know of that can be frozen and still taste good afterwards.

Hannah gave us some great recommendations for restaurants in Orange County. We went for lunch at A&J for traditional Taiwanese small plates: pickled cabbage, spicy cucumber salad and sliced fried pig ears.

Our favorite of Hannah's recommendations was Chong Qing Mei Wei Szechuan for spicy Chinese dishes like these.

And while we stayed in Orange County we took advantage of our kitchen and cooked a bunch too. We like making sweet potato tacos.

A dessert we enjoyed making and eating was tahini treats.

Hannah and Loren had told us about I-Spa, an authentic Korean jjimjialbang in Irvine, and we loved it there.

The ceiling in part of the communal space was painted with bright colors.

Once a week we took a hike at Red Rock Canyon.

This photo shows why it's named red rock.

Several times we saw gopher snakes on the trail.

The cactus were blooming. We learned that generally nocturnal moths pollinate the cactus flowers, but we saw bees around the flowers.

Kristina found a blue jay feather and added it to her sunhat.

All around Orange County the jacaranda trees were blooming. This one near our rental house.

After the election Kristina's folks Patty and Bill came for a visit. We enjoyed walking along the coast near Dana Point.

The four of us had a great dinner at Taco María. We started with ceviche featuring Hokkaido scallops, yum.

We tried a bunch of different tacos, and our favorite was the pork belly with avocado and orange (right).

The next day we went to Crystal Cove and walked along the beach.

Crystal Cove State Park now owns and rents the beach cottages that were built in the 1930s.

The northern cottages will be undergoing restoration starting next year.

We had been eagerly awaiting the release of Incredibles 2, so we got tickets to see it in 3-D on opening day. It was fun!

We visited Pete's sister Denise and his Mom Csilla in Las Vegas in mid-April when we came back to the US from Japan. We brought them a noren for their guest bedroom window.

Since Denise already had a lucky cat, we brought her a lucky dog (middle).

And the colorful handkerchiefs we brought for Denise and Csilla turned out to be the right size for Denise's dogs. This is Reddy modeling his kerchief.

His brother Ruff had a neurological degenerative disease, so we were sad but not surprised when Denise told us after we left that she had had to put dear Ruff down. Rest in peace, Ruff, you were a good dog.

The four of us went out to lunch at Momofuku, David Chang's Korean restaurant whose name means lucky peach.

It's not easy to fit four people into a selfie, but Kristina managed it.

We started with oysters.

Momofuku is known for its pork buns (left), which Pete ordered. Kristina tried a vegetarian bun with shitakes and cucumber, and Denise and Csilla ordered shrimp buns. All were tasty.

Pete loves kimchi, and the Momofuku kimchi was excellent.

One of our favorite dishes was the Brussels sprouts and cauliflower with fish sauce vinaigrette and chilies.

We also loved the slow roasted pork shoulder ssam. Ssam means wrapped in Korean, and we used lettuce leaves to wrap the tender pork.

Csilla posed next to this cool rabbit sculpture in the Cosmopolitan.

And Pete couldn't resist posing in the Han Solo movie set there, too.

We spent a weekend in Leucadia visiting Kristina's sister Debby and her family. Their yard is like a tropical paradise.

Debby's husband Steve is knowledgeable about tropical plants and he always has new plants in pots that he's cultivating like these plumeria. Also is the photo is Daisy, their sweet Havanese pooch.

As well as being a skilled gardener, Steve is also an automobile enthusiast. Here is the interior of their new garage with two of his prized cars, a Lotus (foreground) and vintage BMW 2002.

He made us tacos al pastor and Pete helped chop the meat.

The tacos were extra good with Steve's homemade salsas and Pete's homemade pickles.

Kristina and her niece Megan look ready for dinner. Megan will be getting married this summer, so we had fun hearing about all the wedding plans.

We liked the photo on their save the date card.

Next we'll head up to the Bay Area, then up to Portland, Oregon.