Passion Stirs Romney, Obama Demonstrators on U.S. 19
Whether or not you agree with the message, have you ever passed a roadside rally and wondered what motivates the people? One week before the Nov. 6 General Election, Dunedin Patch went to the corner of Curlew Road and U.S. 19 to meet the mystery rallyers.
Many passing drivers honked in support, others gestured crudely. A dozen or so North Pinellas 9/12 Project demonstrators seemed unfazed.
Along with the supportive honks, "we get our fair share of people flipping us off, 'F yous,' and all that," rally organizer Joe Sekula said while holding a "Fire Obama" sign.
Just days before the Nov. 6 General Election, Sekula led a roadside rally largely in support of Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan as drivers stuck in Tuesday's rush-hour traffic on U.S. 19 slowly passed. Some demonstrators held signs in support of Democrat Carl Zimmerman.
Pam Bollenbacher of Safety Harbor was among them. She waved at drivers with her free hand for two hours, with a smile on her face.
Although a registered Republican, she stood with activists claiming to be from a non-partisan Meetup group called the North Pinellas 9/12 Project. The group of more than 1,000 members is a local chapter of a national, volunteer, Glenn Beck-inspired movement whose mission is uniting and educating people and communities on principals in the U.S. Constitution.
"It's important," Bollenbacher said.
Bollenbacher, a full-time medical claims analyst, said it's her first time volunteering for a presidential campaign. She was moved to take action because she felt the dream of a better life for her adult children and young grandchildren was slipping downhill under President Barack Obama's administration.
Bollenbacher said she has knocked on 961 doors since Sept. 17 and has helped convince several registered Democrats to vote Romney in the General Election.
Ken Dewese, a longtime Clearwater resident, held a homemade pro-Romney campaign sign, with an American flag attached. The wind was so fierce at a previous demonstration that his other American flag snapped off, he said, pointing to the splintered end of a wooden rod still taped to the back of his Romney-Ryan sign.
Dewese felt compelled to stand at the corner of Curlew Road and U.S. 19 because he fears a lot of young people don't understand the Constitution. "We didn't pay attention for a long time," he said.
"You make your donations, but you can't just sit around," Dewese said. "We've got to put the right people in the right positions."
Solitary Support for Obama
A lone President Obama supporter stood across the street from the 9/12 Project's demonstration at the corner of Curlew Road and U.S. 19 with a homemade sign.
Michael James, 32, said he saw the group of Romney-Ryan supporters when he walked out of Circle K and approached them.
He was so incensed after his interaction with the Romney-Ryan supporters that he went home and made his own Obama sign using a permanent marker and the lid of a blue storage container.
"How dare they tell me to get a job," said James, a five-year Palm Harbor resident. "I work two jobs."
He is a cook at The Original Hooters and also distributes fliers at rate of 10 cents a copy, he said.
The 9/12 demonstrators said that James, who has visible tattoos on his neck and arms, was harassing them, so they told him to go to the corner across the street.
James avoided answering when asked what he initially said to the North Pinellas demonstrators.
"Good for him," one North Pinellas 9/12 Project demonstrator said when they saw him with his sign from across the street.