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South Dakota: Mary Perpich


My name is Mary Perpich. I’m a retired journalism professor and volunteer with President Obama’s grassroots campaign in Brookings, South Dakota, where I’ve lived for 27 years.

I’ve been a Democrat my entire life. I worked on a number of campaigns, starting in 1972 when I was a student at Michigan State working on George McGovern’s presidential campaign.

My involvement really all started in 2008. I went to Watertown to see then-Senator Obama speak, and right then and there I was sold! I had this feeling that he would be the next president and I wanted to be a part of that. I remember that during that speech, Obama said something that really hit home with me. It was something along the lines of “Don’t wake up the day after the election and think to yourself that you could have done more.” I certainly didn’t want to feel that way, so I got to work! I made phone calls, I canvassed, and I even donated some money.

This time around, I started my work for President Obama by going on Dashboard. I’ll be making phone calls, canvassing, registering voters on campus to help President Obama and other local Democrats—really just whatever I can!

We realize of course that we live in a conservative area, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t make phone calls to other states on behalf of President Obama. I’ve been using the online call tool a lot recently. I haven’t even called a single person in South Dakota—but I called people in Pennsylvania and Ohio and the like. The tool was so helpful and it was easy for me to do. I volunteered for the President from my home!

The night of the election in 2008, when he gave his victory speech, I was in my living room crying. He just drew everyone into our campaign and made us all feel so important. It was such a wonderful experience. Why in the world wouldn’t I want that feeling? I woke up knowing I did everything I could. And he even won Brookings County!

If you wake up the day after the election and Mitt Romney is president, then you don’t even realize how far back we’d be going. President Obama has just done so much. The health care bill is the most incredible step forward for this country that I can remember in my lifetime. It’s impacted me in so many ways and it’s been a godsend for so many people in this state. If the Republicans get into office and Romney wins, he said he’d repeal it!

And of course, Presidents Obama's accomplishments regarding women are just critical. As a woman working in a male profession for most of my life, all of these things that Obama has done—fighting for fair pay, signing the Lilly Ledbetter act, being an advocate for women’s health and choice, all of the attempts to move women further along in terms of equality, placing two incredible women on Supreme Court—have meant a lot to me. President Obama just gets it. He understands the problems and he’s moving forward with things that affect women directly. I don’t know a single woman—Democrat or Republican—who hasn’t benefited from his policies. That’s why we’re working so hard to keep him in office.

During the last election, we registered 2, 000 students to vote at the South Dakota State University campus in Brookings—it was a tremendous success. We’re going to do another voter registration drive this fall on campus, and we’re hoping to match our number of registered voters from four years ago.

Tomorrow is our annual Brooking Democrats picnic, and after that, I’ll be getting our local office up and running. Our goal this year is getting the majority of people to vote before Election Day. The day after the election, I’ll definitely be able to say I did all I could to make this happen!”

Join Mary—step up and organize in your neighborhood.

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