Michelle Nunn easily won the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate in Georgia last month. A political newcomer, she’s vying for the seat Republican Saxby Chambliss is vacating.
If Nunn wins, it'll be the first time Georgia elects a female U.S. Senator. And while some foes say she’s trading on the name of her father, former U.S. Senator Sam Nunn, the candidate’s real secret weapon may be the army of women volunteers she’s mobilized.
On a Monday night at Michelle Nunn’s campaign headquarters in midtown Atlanta, a crowd of female volunteers are busy at work.
They’re part of a group called Women For Nunn, and it’s their night to call voters.
Many of them find time to sandwich in volunteering between work and family. Others like Carol Baird are retired, but feel so passionate about Nunn they treat volunteering like a job.
Baird answers phones four days a week at the campaign headquarters. And it’s because she thinks Nunn is one of a kind. “She’s such a breath of fresh air. She listens. And she doesn’t just listen. She hears,” said Baird. And after speaking with a dozen of her supporters -- they believe that Nunn’s ability to listen and hear -- will help her re-introduce consensus-building to Washington. If it all sounds like what every candidate’s volunteers says, that’s because it is. But Nunn’s supporters say it with a passion bordering on fanaticism. Anna Foote, an executive at a credit union in Atlanta, brushes off any questions about Nunn’s lack of political experience. She points to Nunn’s accomplishments as a nonprofit executive. “In order to be as successful as she has been statewide, you have to be able to collaborate and compromise and bring people together and accomplish very complicated things,” said Foote. And Foote says that’s the kind of politicking she’d like to start seeing in Washington. Nunn will square off against either businessman David Perdue or Congressman Jack Kingston in November. The two men are in a runoff election for the GOP nomination. Nunn has so far avoided partisan attacks, and doesn’t say she’s a Democrat in campaign ads. Her primary election foes even questioned her party affiliation during a statewide TV debate. And that’s okay with Jennifer Jones. She’s a retired Marine who normally votes Republican. Sign inside of Michelle Nunn's campaign headquarters “You have someone who will work with anyone and everyone to get the job done,” said Jones. “That’s really a great asset to have.” For women like Baird, the retiree and a lifelong Georgian, the prospect of electing Georgia’s first female U.S. Senator has taken on singular importance. It’s something she says is a long time coming. “In the 1970s, opportunities began to open up. And women like me who were in college were excited,” said Baird. “We might finally have someone who looks like us representing us. So, yeah, I’ve been waiting for this for 40 years.” Of course, a band of super-dedicated volunteers hoping to help Nunn make history won’t be enough. Experts say Nunn will need to raise large amounts of cash to win. And so far, she’s doing just that. In the first quarter, she raised twice as much as potential GOP rival Jack Kingston.