NORTH OAKLAND COUNTY, MICHIGAN – One month ago, Los Angeles, CA resident Ryan O’Connor would have never expected to find himself working to elect Hillary Clinton, let alone entrenched on the battlefield in a rural, conservative part of Michigan, a state that is expected to be a battleground for Democrats in November’s presidential election.
An actor, singer, and entertainment host, O’Connor appeared on Oprah Winfrey’s “Your OWN Show” in 2011 and was the host of the extremely popular “Musical Mondays” event in West Hollywood, CA for five years before deciding he needed a change of pace.
“My marriage ended in March of this year, and as summer went on I was living in a friend’s guest room in the valley in Los Angeles.” O’ Connor said in a conversation with B4H. “Between show business and dealing with my personal life, I became sick of thinking about myself and decided it was time to focus on something besides myself.”
Having been a long time supporter of Hillary’s, Ryan was inspired suddenly to get involved, and he applied to work for the campaign. “Helping elect the most qualified person to ever run for the office of President seemed like a good way to stop thinking about myself.”
“I had the privilege of voting for Hillary in my very first election when I was 19 years old in 2000,” O’Connor explained. “I was living in New York at the time, and voted for her as my Senator. I am so grateful to have had her as our Senator in the days and weeks after 9/11. It’s the kind of leadership that our country desperately needs right now.”
It was on the second day of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia 16 years later, shortly before Clinton would accept the Democratic nomination for President, that O’Connor got the call. He’d been hired, but where he’d been called to serve was a surprise. Before he knew it, he was off to rural Michigan, where he was tasked with the opportunity, and the challenge, of a lifetime: Turning a hardcore conservative area in a rural part of a crucial swing state from a red zone, to a blue one.“I am specifically in charge of an area that comprises Waterford Township, White Lake Township, Highland Township and a chunk of Northern Pontiac.” O’Connor said.
O’Connor believes there is a chance to turn this area blue. “The reality about Michigan is that there is no path to the White House for Donald Trump that doesn’t include winning Michigan,” O’Connor said. “He knows it and that’s why he keeps visiting and trying to appeal to broken Union workers and the disenfranchised auto workers.”
O’Connor says that it’s going to take an all-hands-on-deck approach, and possible volunteers from out of state, to get to work making phone calls, canvassing door-to-door, reaching out to as many voters as possible. [Editor’s Note: If you are interested in joining Ryan in Michigan, please contact him via the e-mail address found in the footer of this article.]
As far as what he is getting out of all of this, O’Connor views this as his Julia Roberts moment. “Obviously, this journey is first and foremost about electing a woman that I believe is the most qualified person in history to be President of the United States, but personally, it’s about participating in the country that has been so good to me. I keep joking that instead of ‘Eat. Pray. Love’ I am living a sort of ‘Eat. Politic. Vote’ moment. Finding myself by helping others.”
“It’s the adventure of a lifetime.”
Ryan O’Connor is a Field Organizer for Michigan Coordinated Campaign and may be reached directly at ROConnor@mivictory2016.org. Alex Mohajer is the Political Director of Bros4Hillary and you may reach him here.