Throughout the nation on election night, Hillary Clinton campaign volunteers were shown with red faces and teary eyes. Though Nevada Democrats lost the presidency, they gained several “little victories” in the state that have been attributed to the strong ground-game campaign volunteers brought to the state. Among those volunteers knocking on doors, arranging rallies and making phone calls was Courtney McKimmey, a Clinton campaign volunteer and student at the University of Nevada, Reno.
McKimmey, a senior economics and international affairs major and renewable energy minor, logged the most volunteer hours out of every volunteer throughout the state of Nevada prior to the Feb. 20 Nevada Democratic caucus.
“I’ve had the best volunteer experience out of maybe anyone on the campaign, and I was really lucky to have a lot of the opportunities that I did have,” McKimmey said. “I learned how to take ‘no’ really well, which is a really good life skill. I was really grateful for that. I got to see a lot of the campaign side of things. I gave a lot of speeches on behalf of the campaign; I did a lot of interviews. I got to meet a lot of awesome people like Tony Goldwyn and Jennifer Gardner. I got to meet Hillary twice and got to sit on a panel with her, which was absurd. The typical experience is that you get what you put in it.”
As a swing state, Nevada was hit hard by both campaigns this election season. President-elect Donald Trump held several rallies throughout the state up until election day and Clinton had surrogates in the state campaigning for her and for Catherine Cortez Masto, Nevada’s newly elected senator.
“Watching the results [of the election] come in from Nevada was really nice because knowing that our work here made a lot of difference,” McKimmey said.
Cortez Masto, Nevada’s first Latina senator, won the state’s senate race after receiving 47 percent of the voter to her opponent, Joe Heck’s, 45 percent.
Nevada also passed Question One, a measure prohibiting the sale or transfer of a firearm without a federal background check. With the passage of Question One, all sales and transfers of firearms to another person must go through a federally-licensed dealer to conduct a background check on the buyer. The measure barely passed with a 50.45 percent vote.
McKimmey said a lot of the volunteers she worked with throughout the campaign were very disappointed in Clinton’s loss but found some joy in celebrating the little victories that the party received in Nevada.
In her concession speech to Donald Trump last Wednesday, Nov. 9, Clinton thanked her campaign volunteers and supporters for their passion and called her campaign “one of the greatest honors of [her] life.”
“I think the result is a wake-up call for a lot of people, for young women who supported Hillary it is a ‘what the heck happened’ and I think for a lot of people, they don’t think Trump is going to get done the things he has been saying, so a lot of it is a wait and see right now,” McKimmey said.
On election night, McKimmey joined the other Nevada Democrats at the Grand Sierra Resort for the Democratic watch party. As the results came in, McKimmy said, “I couldn’t believe it almost, disbelief was my first reaction and just a lot of the feeling that someone had punched me in the gut. I had just invested so much into the campaign and it was something no one saw coming, at least on our end of things.”
McKimmey signed up to volunteer for the Clinton campaign the day she announced her candidacy.
“I was really excited about her candidacy, I hadn’t been following her career up until that point, but once I started reading more about her, I bought her autobiography and I just started learning about all the things she had accomplished and I was really excited,” McKimmey said.
McKimmey enjoyed getting out in the Reno community, knocking on doors and talking to people. She said even given the result of the election, she would not trade her experience volunteering for the Clinton campaign for anything.
“At this time, the only thing we can do is come together and unite on ideals and reach out to the community who voted for Trump and understand why,” McKimmey said. “We shouldn’t blame anyone, we shouldn’t lash out at people. We really just have to be compassionate toward each other and come together to solve these issues.”