The coronavirus pandemic has reshaped everyone’s lives. For women running for political office, campaigning looks very different than in any other presidential election year. More women than ever are running for the U.S. House, shattering 2018′s record, and Black women are running in record numbers as well. Tabitha Johnson-Green, a Democrat, is one of those women. She is running against incumbent Republican Jody Hice in Georgia’s 10th District.
Johnson-Green is a nurse and a business owner. She ran against Hice in 2018 and lost. She says she is running again because “I could not wait until another innocent person died at the hands of racism or another patient lost their life due to lack of access to health care.” We asked Johnson-Green to keep a 30-day diary of what campaigning during 2020 has been like for her.
This is the first in a series of diaries from women running for the U.S. House this year.
Allow me to introduce myself … Wait, I’m always in campaign mode — I’ve got to stop and breathe.
Today has been a whirlwind type of day. First, I started by accepting to participate in The Lily’s Coronavirus Diaries. Then, I completed my daily Bible study. I was feeling kind of guilty because before yesterday, it had been about two weeks since I read the Bible.
I also shared an article, “St. Louis County prosecutor reopened Michael Brown shooting case but won’t charge Darren Wilson,” to my Waco Center for Change Facebook page. I added the following caption: “This is awful...More of the same! When will this unjustified persecution of Our People end?”
I am so glad that I decided to give myself the day off. After spending more than half of the day binge-watching “Queen of the South,” I got my nails and toes done. It felt good being pampered and pushing the pause button on trying to cure all of the ills of the world.
Last night, I went to sleep feeling excited about attending our church’s very first drive-in service. Now, I don’t know. I don’t feel ready.
But I ended up changing my mind and had an awesome worship experience thanks to Pastor Parker and Word of Life Church.
The coronavirus really has changed how we campaign. This time two years ago, I would have had three or more events every day. I would have started the day with phone-banking, followed by canvassing on the way to a speaking engagement. Instead, I spent the day organizing a space in my home for an office.
Today was one of those days where I felt the full effects of the coronavirus. In our rural Georgia county, parents (including me) were given the choice of a) Sending our kids to school five days per week for in-person instruction, b) sending our kids to school three days per week for in-person instruction and two days per week for remote online learning, or c) keeping our kids at home for remote online learning. I chose Option C, and I am glad that I did, because our county has become one of the leading counties for rates of coronavirus infection in all of Georgia.
Our hospital is at full capacity. It has gotten so bad that parents who originally chose Option A or B have been given the choice to change to Option C. I’m especially glad that I chose to err on the side of safety after reading an article about how an outbreak at a camp showed rapid virus spread among children.
I am so excited — the College Democrats of Georgia have volunteered to help the Johnson-Green for Congress campaign by phone-banking. The president of the College Democrats is also enlisting the help of sister organizations nationwide! Although the coronavirus warped the efforts of group postcard writing, phone-banking is in full effect.
So, I completed a recorded interview via Zoom with a representative of Farm Bureau for their “I Farm. I Vote.” initiative. I was excited and nervous all at the same time. I know that in order to serve the community at large, speeches are crucial, but it is my least favorite part of the job. I am much better with talking with people one-on-one or in small groups. With as many speeches that I have given, I still have this fear of my mind going blank in front of a live audience.
At the start of the interview, the interviewer fumbled through her first few lines. Then, she announced that she had to start the recording over because she always fumbles through her words in the beginning. I let her know that it takes me a while to warm up and loosen up during a live speech or interview that I know is going to reach thousands. She agreed and laughed nervously while restarting the recording. As the interview progressed, I was finally able to loosen up and let my personality shine. Second time is a charm!
I am completely exhausted. I spent the day helping my son look for a truck to start his new business. I am glad that he has chosen this moment in his early 20s to step out on faith. I have always told him that the best time to make your move is when you are young, single and childless. I am extremely proud of him and his determination to become an independent business owner.
The coronavirus has once again struck very close to home. I just found out that the mother of one of my closest friends and campaign staff members has tested positive for covid-19.
I love to travel, but I barely have the time or resources to do so. But today was an exception. We are still on the hunt to find a truck for my son’s new business, and we visited a car dealership in Jackson, Ga., about two hours away from home.
I am so glad that I chose an online learning option for my son after reading an article about North Paulding High School in Paulding County, Ga., which reported nine covid-19 cases after photos of packed hallways went viral.
I completed an interview for a study about women and politics with a professor from the University of Wisconsin today. The results of the study will be featured in journals and an upcoming textbook. I felt very honored to be invited to be among the participants. It is so surreal being recognized by people from across the country that I had no idea even knew I existed. It was also exhilarating to candidly discuss the rigors of campaign life from a female perspective, i.e. helping the kids with homework and cooking/cleaning all while running a major campaign.
Today, I had a major breakthrough. After trying for days to secure a dialer, a telephone software system that automatically dials phone numbers for campaign fundraising, I finally signed a contract with a reputable company. Now, I can rest a little easier tonight!
Today, I started the onboarding process for an upcoming campaign fundraiser. Onboarding occurs when you take all of your raw data and integrate it into a computerized telephone call system. Thanks to the company’s personalized tech support, it was less traumatic than I expected.
I woke up this morning with the following thought on my mind: Keep your plans close to the vest. When you keep your plans close to the vest, there is less of a chance that people will try to block or sabotage your success and efforts.
My greatest accomplishment for today: homemade cream corn. A few days ago, my husband shucked and refrigerated some corn that a family friend gave to us, fresh from his garden. For dinner, I meticulously cut the corn from the cob, hoping and praying that this first experience of making homemade cream corn would be a family hit. I had been forewarned by my mother-in-law not to cut too close to the cob so as to avoid having hard pieces of kernel in the mix. After cutting the corn from the cob, I fried up a mixture of corn, salt, flour, sugar and butter in my prized cast-iron skillet. The kids really enjoyed the meal, with the cream corn as the centerpiece.
I thought back to a time when my now-22-year-old son was 3 years old. I had made homemade hamburgers. After cleaning his plate, my son exclaimed, “Mmm, umm, my Mama give me ‘licious food!” I was the happiest cook for about a week straight.
I’m up early this morning, preparing to shoot a commercial for the campaign. The weather is overcast and cloudy. Even though the sun has yet to make its debut, I feel calm, at peace and hopeful.
As forecasted, there were scattered showers throughout the day. Thank goodness the videographer scheduled a rain check.
Ready, set, action. We were invited to the lakeside home of a videographer who has made commercials for Coca-Cola and lived practically all over the world.
As we drove through the countryside en route to his home, we realized that we were in Trump territory as evidenced by Trump-Pence flags, American flags and MAGA signs dotting the landscape. The videographer and his wife live in a beautiful home with an adjoining guesthouse surrounded by stately homes in a wooded lakeside community.
The videographer and his wife were warm and inviting. As we closed out our session, I told them, “The best part about being on the campaign trail is meeting and making new friends.” Until we meet again my friends…
Today was the first day of school for remote online learning, and I transformed the dining room into an online oasis, perfect for learning. The Johnson-Green for Congress Academy is in full effect.
And again, I’m thankful I chose Option C. Last week, a student in our school district who chose Option A tested positive for the coronavirus. Today, a teacher tested positive for the coronavirus.
I called up a volunteer who I was sure would garner tons of support from a new wave of voters, but the volunteer did not answer nor did he return my call, which made me a bit disappointed. But I have always been one to be self-reliant.
Day 3 of online learning was a bit of a challenge this morning. My son had problems logging into his class. After trying for an hour and a half to log in, his efforts were finally met with success. I feared that the system would count him absent for today, but when he was finally able to log in, he read a message that stated that the school’s Internet was not working properly.
It’s the final night of the Democratic National Convention, and I’m ridin’ with Biden! He’s been my No. 1 pick from the start. I can identify with him in a lot of ways. His whole persona has a calming effect, assuring you that everything is going to be okay in this chaotic world. Or at least he will try to make it better.
Today was another good day. I made several phone calls for campaign donations, and they were all met with a positive response. I spent most of the day stuffing envelopes and sending out mailings as far away as California, Wisconsin and New York.
I have four Zoom meetings scheduled for this weekend. I thought that campaigning would be less strenuous during this covid-19 era, but as it has turned out, I’ve had a Zoom meeting scheduled for almost every other day.
Up early this morning preparing for an upcoming Zoom meeting. It was really exciting getting to reconnect with some familiar faces! I was a little nervous at the start of the meeting, but as it progressed, I was able to loosen up. The meeting turned out well, and I do believe that I have gained some new allies in this push for Congress, this push to bring about a positive change in the daily lives and circumstances for us all.
Today’s assignment/mission is to complete the article about me that will be featured in Interest Magazine.
I also received the most surprising campaign contribution today! The contribution was so unexpected that it tugged on my heartstrings in a major way, and I immediately sent him a thank-you card.
I love when a plan comes together. Even though covid-19 has us housebound, I spent most of the day planning an October event with a campaign staff member from Columbia County via phone. Over several exchanges and brainstorming sessions, we were able to solidify details of the event and book a venue. Teamwork really does make the dream work.
In order to cultivate a winning spirit, it is vital and crucial to surround oneself with positivity, critical thinkers and problem-solvers. Recently, someone who presented with an incredible amount of negative energy tried to infiltrate the campaign. From the start, this person’s actions were not congruent with their words. Luckily, I was able to see through this person’s deception and limit this person’s access to the campaign.
Pastor Parker’s sermon, titled “Walk It Like You Talk It,” was all the confirmation that I needed to let me know that I was on the right track.
Finally, I finished my article for Interest Magazine. Had I known that submitting the article was so easy and not very time-consuming, I would have completed it a long time ago.
Although the hardest thing on the campaign trail has been public speaking, asking for money runs a close second. After taking a few breathers and saying a prayer, I was ready to start phone-banking.
Texting and mailing is where it’s at. For all of those that we couldn’t reach by phone, we sent text messages, and we had a very productive rate of response. We also sent out hundreds of mailings, with at least a thousand more to go.
I want to scream: Look out world, here I come! Your next congresswoman representing the great state of Georgia for District 10.