On Columbus Day weekend, 13 of us from the Georgetown University College Democrats traveled to the Garden State to campaign for the re-election of incumbent governor, Jon Corzine (D-N.J.). In the process, we participated in one of the tightest and most important races this year. Although 2009 is an off-year for national and most statewide elections, the gubernatorial elections in Virginia and New Jersey this November have been touted as watershed moments, for the Democratic Party and its platform could receive a mandate from voters. The strong Republican challenges in both states threaten to slow the progress we have seen over the last few months. This threat motivated us to make the five-hour drive to Teaneck, N.J., to canvass across Bergen County. For me, it was particularly worrying that my reliably blue home state just might have a red State House this fall, a justified concern, as the governor has been trailing in the race throughout most of the campaign. Throughout the trip, however, we encountered many hopeful signs that Corzine was pulling ahead of his Republican opponent, Chris Christie, for good. When we arrived at the campaign’s field office in Teaneck, the governor was leading in statewide polls for the first time in a long time. We also saw firsthand the energy and dedication the campaign has brought to the race. The office was buzzing with activity, even though it was a Sunday afternoon during a New York Giants football game. In some ways, it was hard not to compare this operation to the Obama campaign just a year ago; everyone, including our group, was motivated by the mission to re-elect a Democratic governor. The areas we canvassed brought home the diversity and political culture unique to New Jersey. From immigrant neighborhoods with signs in foreign languages to residential communities with hardly a store in sight, the towns we visited underscored the importance of this election. In each, there were simply too many foreclosures, “For Sale” signs and eviction notices, harrowing signs of the national recession’s harsh effect on my state. The economy naturally has led to some very grumpy and frustrated potential voters. In addition, the national embarrassment brought about by this summer’s New Jersey-based corruption scandal has made many New Jerseyans apathetic about voting. (To be honest, it was probably annoying to some that we were canvassing on Sunday afternoon during a New York Giants football game. As a passionate Giants fan, I can relate completely to this grumpiness, but I still did my best to win over voters as they were engrossed in the game.) Yet amid all this negativity, there was a surprising amount of hope on the streets. A fair number of people were both genuinely interested in voting for Corzine and cognizant of the importance of the race itself. And the number of fellow volunteers at the field office was remarkable; their passion and willingness to work made me proud to be a part of such a dedicated army of canvassers and campaigners. All in all, the trip was a wonderful experience for each and every one of us. We were able to participate in a meaningful race in a meaningful way, knocking on over 1,700 doors in the process. We also made some friends along the way, from the campaign staffers who helped us to our hosts at Princeton University, who let us stay with them for the night. As a resident of New Jersey, I encourage all my fellow Garden Staters to seriously consider voting in this election – it’s that important. I always (sadly) encounter political apathy whenever I return home. It was precisely this apathy that drove me out of the state and into a more politically active place like Georgetown. But none of us can escape our state this year. William Vogt is a sophomore in the School of Foreign Service and the press secretary of the Georgetown University College Democrats. *To send a letter to the editor on a recent campus issue or Hoya story or a viewpoint on any topic, contact [opinionthehoya.com](opinionthehoya.com). Letters should not exceed 300 words, and viewpoints should be between 600 to 800 words.*

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