Politics, Policy and Power Praxis Fieldwork Seminar
Faculty Advisor: Marissa Golden
Field Site: John Fetterman’s Campaign for U.S. Senate
Field Supervisor: Quinn Gomola Mullin
Praxis Poster:Gabriela Capone_Final Poster
This semester, I participated in Professor Marissa Golden’s Praxis seminar, Politics, Policy, and Power. My fieldwork was an internship on the research team of Fetterman for PA. John Fetterman is Pennsylvania’s current lieutenant governor and is running for the Democratic nomination for the open seat. I have been interning on the research team, primarily transcribing various media clips as well as vetting the campaign’s large donors.
Compiling a database of all the interviews, speeches, debates, and many other appearances Fetterman has made is really important for a campaign. This allows the full time research staff to gather key information surrounding the candidate for debate preparation, crafting statements, goals, and generally keeping a record of what stances or opinions have been made in the past. Having all of this information typed out makes it easily searchable and comprehensible. It is an important part to staying organized and maintaining a campaign.
With many donations coming in through the primary campaigning period, especially in a race for an open seat in a swing state like PA, it is important that a campaign pay attention to who their donors are. For all donations over $500, I vet the donors for four criteria — federal lobbyists, state lobbyists, fossil fuel employees, and foreign agents. If any donors fell in one or more of these categories, their donations would be refunded. Using the four databases and lists on my poster, I checked each of these donors at the end of the quarter. By the time Federal Election Commission Reports were submitted, the campaign would have everything sorted and refunds issued to avoid being associated with any problematic individuals.
Petition Circulator Vetting:
In order to be an official candidate and be included on the primary ballot, every candidate must submit petitions. The laws vary by each state. In Pennsylvania, each candidate needs at least 2,000 signatures from any county and the individuals who collect these petitions (called circulators) must be registered voters in the same party as the candidate they are petitioning for. I used the Democratic National Committee Voter Action Network database to check that the circulators were active Democrats as well as checking the circulators’ municipalities that they are registered to vote in. Pennsylvania has a complicated municipality system and many individuals actually do not vote in the “town” they may live in (ie, Bryn Mawr students who are registered to vote in Bryn Mawr, actually vote in the municipality of Lower Merion Township, because Bryn Mawr is only a village).
I have learned a great deal about campaigns during this semester and have thoroughly enjoyed both Fetterman for PA and the Praxis program. The campaign gave us the opportunity to meet and talk with many different individuals and gave us many experiences. Bryn Mawr and Praxis served as an excellent support system and I am really glad I was able to earn academic credit for my work over these months. I now feel more confident as I apply to jobs in politics and know that this experience will serve me well throughout my future.