Back in July, when polls everywhere showed that Republican voters were pretty much ignoring John McCain, Ventura's Neal Andrews stepped up and offered to become the Arizona senator's
Ventura County campaign coordinator. The McCain camp eagerly accepted the offer; they weren't exactly being overwhelmed by volunteers.
"I've run some underdog campaigns in the past," Andrews told me yesterday. "This campaign was the most challenging. It had the least resources."
Meanwhile, other Republican candidates amassed strong grass-roots campaigns in the county. Former Assemblyman Tony Strickland put together an impressive corps of financial contributors and ground-level volunteers for Mitt Romney. The team of seasoned operatives that had coordinated local efforts on behalf of George W. Bush during the previous two presidential campaigns -- led by such folks as Simi Valley City Councilman Glen Becerra and Thousand Oaks activist Dianne Alexander -- went to work on behalf of Rudy Giuliani.
"Tony had such a strong Romney campaign here," Andrews said. "So many times I came up against situations in which I was unwelcome."
On Tuesday, McCain carried Ventura County by 184,000 votes.
"I was a little bit surprised that McCain won California so handily," Andrews said. "But I was much less optimistic about winning this county."