Victory Center gets morale boost from Davis, Rutherford

Local Republican politicians visited the Champaign County Victory Center on Wednesday to give student volunteers a boost in morale as Election Day nears.

The center, located at 610 S. Sixth St., is a volunteer organization that actively campaigns on behalf of Republican candidates. Two centers are launching grassroots campaigns in the 13th District, with the other center located in Taylorville.

Illinois State Treasurer Dan Rutherford, who is the chairman of Romney’s Illinois campaign, and Rodney Davis, the current Republican candidate for the 13th District congressional seat, were among the figures that made an appearance Wednesday.

Rutherford said the Romney campaigning center in Champaign is the newest of several in Illinois.

The Champaign Victory Center, along with the Taylorville branch, is also campaigning heavily for Davis in his bid for the 13th District seat. Volunteers make calls and go door-to-door to gauge residents’ affinities for particular candidates and compile that data into a database. The ultimate goal of the phone bank is to sway undecided voters to the Republican party.

John Bambenek, candidate for the Illinois 52nd District, spoke of his past political experience in Illinois and how it has shaped his belief that Illinois’ status as a blue state should not be taken for granted in this election.

“I’ll let you know a dirty little secret. How many of you have heard that Illinois is a deep blue state? That’s a bunch of crap,” he said. “(Rutherford) wouldn’t be treasurer if this were really a blue state.”

Davis greeted the young volunteers and thanked them for their efforts to bring swing voters to the Republican party.

“You guys, you can do it; you are our base, and I can’t thank you enough,” he said.

Rutherford said it will be difficult for the Romney campaign to challenge President Obama’s sturdy foothold in Illinois.

“To be candid with you, it will be abundantly difficult to beat an incumbent president in his home state,” he said. “But we are going to play every inch of it very hard. Polling shows that Obama is not running as strong in certain areas as what he had before. The criteria for success is to suppress his numbers from 2008.”

_Matt can be reached at [email protected]_