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U. Iowa Students Pitch In For Ga. Race

This story was written by Shawn Gude, The Daily Iowan

University of Iowa junior Caitlin Ross sat in a folding chair Monday night in a warm, welcoming home in Iowa City phoning Georgia phone numbers.

Family photos lined the wall, and several other callers joined her - three in the same room, two in the adjacent room, and one seated on the toilet in the bathroom.

"Hi, this message is for Douglas," Ross said, seated at a table in the home of fellow Democrat Ed Flaherty. "My name is Caitlin, and I'm a volunteer with Jim Martin's campaign for Senate, and I was just calling to remind you to vote for Jim Martin tomorrow."

In recent days, local Democrats such as Ross have looked southward to Georgia, where Democratic Senate candidate Jim Martin is looking to unseat Republican incumbent Saxby Chambliss.

After neither garnered 50 percent of the vote on Election Day - Chambliss missed the threshold by 0.2 percent - the race was sent to a runoff, which is scheduled for today.

Neither the Martin nor the Chambliss campaign responded to requests for comment.

Despite being many states away, the Georgia race holds significant importance to Iowa Democrats.

An upset in Georgia, combined with an Al Franken victory in Minnesota would give Democrats an enviable 60-seat, filibuster-proof majority. Franken and Republican incumbent Norm Coleman are currently tied up in a recount.

The possibility of a larger majority is precisely why UI sophomore Allie Patch decided to make calls on Monday night.

"It's really important to me as a Democrat because if Martin does win, we're going to have cloture in the Senate, which makes it a whole lot easier to get everything passed," she said.

Seconding that, Johnson County Democrat Brad Selken said an extra seat for his party would be "lovely."

Although "Republicans and Democrats are human beings, and they're never going to vote down party lines," another seat wouldn't hurt, Selken said. With such a majority, the Democrat said he hopes his party will have an easier time passing alternative energy and health-care legislation.

Johnson County Democrats Chairman Brian Flaherty also stressed the need for 60 votes.

"By electing Martin to the United States Senate, it will help President-elect Obama move his agenda forward," Flaherty said from Suwanee, Ga. "I think that agenda is very important for the country."

Flaherty made the 800-mile journey last week to the northern suburbs of Atlanta to knock on doors for the Martin campaign.

Martin needs all the help he can get - one poll released Monday showed Chambliss leading by 7 points.

University of Georgia political-science Associate Professor Scott Ainsworth didn't give Martin much of a chance, either.

"Martin's chances tomorrow are slim," Ainsworth wrote in an e-mail on Monday. "Georgia is still a red state."

Now, it all comes down to turnout.

"That's what we need to do at this point - making sure they actually get out to vote," Patch said.

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