On the Campaign Trail: Omeed Firouzi
by Kara Dunford | The George Washington University
When Omeed Firouzi was in second grade, he read biographies of presidents given to him by his mother, sparking an interest in politics that never stopped growing.
Firouzi, now a rising sophomore at The George Washington University, currently serves as a neighborhood team leader in Back Mountain, Pennsylvania for President Obama’s reelection campaign, organizing nights of phone banking and canvassing door-to-door to attract voters to the Democratic ticket.
“When you make personal contact with voters, you see what issues impact them and the enormous impact the election will have on their lives,” Firouzi said. “You see what their specific concerns are and you’re able to tell them the facts.”
Firouzi, the son of Iranian immigrants, became absorbed in the political world during the 2004 election. Against the backdrop of the battle between President George W. Bush and Senator John Kerry, his teachers in northeastern Pennsylvania grounded his education in a hands-on understanding of civics through visits to the state capital and lessons on the Electoral College.
In 2008, while a high school student at Wyoming Seminary Upper School, Firouzi gained his first campaign experience as a volunteer for then-Senator Barack Obama’s campaign.
“I volunteered in Wilkes-Barre and served as the voter persuasion leader,” he said. “In addition to making phone calls and knocking on doors, I was in charge of telling other volunteers what persuasion tactics and messages were the best to use.”
In addition to becoming involved in student government as senior class president and vice president of the student body, Firouzi founded his school’s Junior State of America group, which later played host to Phyllis Mundy, a Democrat serving in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. The event proved beneficial to Firouzi’s future in politics.
“[Mundy] said she was impressed with my questions and insight into politics,” Firouzi said of the meeting. “She later asked if I would manage her campaign for reelection.”
As campaign manager for the 2010 reelection effort, Firouzi was responsible for crafting campaign literature and debate prep, as well as overseeing canvassing and phone banking.
“Pennsylvania is a state where Democrats historically do really well, but it was a tough year for Democrats,” he said. “But we won reelection in November. It was a wonderful moment.”
Firouzi’s work on the campaign garnered the attention of PoliticsPA.com, an online website dedicated to the Pennsylvania political scene. Firouzi was named Pennsylvania’s top high school politico as part of the website’s 2010 “30 Under 30” feature on the state’s rising political stars.
After enrolling at GW, Firouzi continued his involvement in politics. He serves as president of GW for Obama-Biden and political affairs director of GW College Democrats.
Firouzi currently works in Mundy’s district office, in addition to his duties for President Obama’s campaign.
In his role as neighborhood team leader, Firouzi organized weekly phone banking nights. Every Wednesday, he joins the campaign’s Wilkes-Barre field coordinator, as well as fellow campaign volunteers, in calling voters to win votes for the president.
“My favorite part is knowing it will make a real difference not just in the election, but in people’s lives as well,” he said. “It really matters.”
While this election cycle has been marked by a lack of enthusiasm among young people, Firouzi said he hopes his peers consider the accomplishments President Obama has achieved on their behalf, citing the Affordable Care Act; the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell; and student loan reform as actions that directly impact the nation’s youth.
“Young people are frustrated, we’re all frustrated, by the pace of change,” Firouzi said. “Including the president himself… But he’s done a lot of wonderful things on behalf of young people, and he needs to be rewarded for that. He is their only real ally in this general election.”
Firouzi said he enjoys feeling that he has made a difference through his campaign work, and his desire to help may lead him to run for office himself in the future.
“The ideal way to practice politics is to make other people’s lives better, to enact policy that has an impact on people.”Kara Dunford is currently a student at The George Washington University pursuing a degree in political communication.