At 6:30 a.m. Friday, a half-hour before he and his fellow Student Association candidates would be permitted to display posters around campus, sophomore and Elliott School Senate hopeful Govindraj Kilambi was ready to run.
He arrived that morning with only a light jacket on top of his short-sleeved polo shirt, which he wore in the 26-degree weather. Jokingly, he started to stretch.
But for Kilambi, the event was no joke. He, and others who had witnessed postering in the past, knew that the first seconds after 7 a.m., when the official time for displaying campaign material began, were the most crucial. Kilambi had staked out good positions for his posters the day before, anticipating a crowd of running candidates and their staff.
Standing in Kogan Plaza with his corps of six volunteers, another sophomore and Senate candidate for a Columbian College seat, Luke Moses, interrupted a tough-talking Joint Elections Committee member who yelled to the mob that the postering would begin after the sounding of a bell.
“Are you talking about the first bell?” he called out in his distinctive Southern accent.
Ten minutes later, his staff was strategically dispersed along H Street, awaiting what was clarified as the first bell. While Moses waited at the Marvin Center, Kilambi, whose staff was also spread out, stood across the street from the Academic Center. Readying Moses’s posters in her hands in front of Gelman Library, waiting to bolt toward Phillips Hall, junior Libby Ellsworth sensed the fierce competitiveness that had permeated the crowd and turned to Kilambi.
“We’re buddies, right?” she said, smiling.
“There are no friends when the bell rings,” he answered. With that they were off.
For candidates, the sprawl of bodies seeking to get their graphics in a noticeable spot was an adrenaline-filled first indicator of how well they would be able to get their names in front of voters. Kilambi tore across H Street with three volunteers, and Moses did the same down the street.
What began as political campaigning seemed to be more of a military operation for Kilambi’s camp.
“Go help Dave defend his position,” Meredith Jessup, Kilambi’s campaign manager, screamed. Kilambi raced to help his campaign worker, and then systematically worked his way toward the Marvin Center and then to Monroe Hall.
Over at the Marvin Center, Moses was having relative success temporarily taping his campaign material to the brick walls. He and his staff would return later to better adhere the paper to the building.
After the initial rush, a more relaxed Moses stood near a wall with a few other students and started schmoozing. He hugged junior Michelle Tanney, who is running for an undergraduate at-large Senate spot.
“You know what – I want everyone to know that Michelle and I are getting married on the SA senate floor if we both win,” he said, smiling.
“Come on Luke,” Tanney said. “Tell us your slogan one more time.”
To anyone without a southern accent, his “He knows us, vote Luke Moses” catch-phrase barely rhymes.
He took a deep breath and belted out his rhyming campaign slogan thanks to his accent: “He knows us, vote Luke MOWS-us.”
Though Moses was able to elicit laughter from some fellow students, there were moments on Friday that were no laughing matter.
“The best thing I could equate postering to was GW’s running of the bulls,” said Marc Abanto, a Columbian College Senate candidate who was slammed into a Marvin Center wall, leaving him with a cut above his right eye.
But even as blood dripped from his brow, Abanto kept his priorities straight.
“There was some blood on my hands and my biggest concern was that it was going to get on my posters,” he said. “Eventually someone handed me a napkin, which helped.”
Kilambi and Moses said they were pleased with the spots they chose for their posters, and added that this week will be the busiest as they lead up to Wednesday and Thursday’s election.
As for Moses, the postering did take its toll.
“I can’t feel my toes,” he said. “This is definitely too cold for my Georgia bones.”