|Polk County Enterprise - Local News
Stories Added - January 27, 2008 - February 3, 2008
Copyright 2008 - Polk County Publishing Company
Hometown girl plays a strategic role in presidential bid
Polk County Enterprise - February 2008
by James E. Baugh
LIVINGSTON – Eureka Gilkey is living her small town girl’s dream come true. The 32-year-old 1993 graduate of Livingston High School is serving as the Georgia state director of the 2008 Barack Obama presidential campaign.
Formerly serving as Deputy Political Director for the campaign out of the Chicago headquarters, Gilkey has been involved in Obama’s campaign almost since its inception.
After graduating in 1998 from Howard University with a degree in political science, Gilkey was offered her first job as political assistant with Emily’s List, a political action committee that aims to elect pro-choice Democratic women to office.
Gilkey served as the 2006 National Training Director for Emily’s List.
Emily’s List is widely regarded as the best training model in Democratic party politics.
As national training director for EMILY’s List, Gilkey collaborated with Obama’s Leadership PAC, Hopefund, to launch “Yes We Can” — a training program for young African American and Hispanic activists.
Gilkey has been with the Senator’s campaign ever since.
“I just love working for the senator,” Gilkey says by phone during the interview.
“He is so humble and keeps his – I guess you’d call it ‘fame’ – in perspective. He is a Christian family man whose top priorities are his wife and kids.”
Gilkey is the daughter of Allie Faye Davis Gilkey of Livingston who refuses to take any credit for her daughter’s achievements but recently seen scurrying atound Livingston buying up copies of the January issue of Glamour magazine where Eureka is listed as one of 10 under-40 powerhouse women.
“It was all her. From a young age she decided she was going to Howard [University],” says Allie.
It’s sad to say but I fought her the whole way. I was a single mother and knew I couldn’t afford it.”
When asked whether she is surprised by how far her daughter has gone, Gilkey muses for a moment.
“Well, yes and no. I love politics, always have but I didn’t push anything. I was just trying to keep my head above water.”
Eureka’s mother says she was a Girl Scout and participated in 4-H, flag corp, distributive education and anything else she could sign up for, making both women a nearly permanent fixture at Livingston High School during Eureka’s education.
Gilkey has two brothers – James, with a degree from Texas A & M, who works at Timberwood Nursing Home and Raymond who works as a cross-country truck driver having left the University of Arkansas.
Despite the fact that Eureka is the middle child, her mother says she wasn’t expecting a girl the day she delivered her.
“I was so surprised that I had a girl. I knew the word ‘eureka’ meant ‘I have found.’ I took one look at her and named her Eureka Goddess Gilkey because truly I had found a goddess.”
While reminiscing about growing up in Livingston, Eureka points out that her first political campaign was helping her uncle, Elgin Davis, in his run for Livingston school board by passing our emory boards.
When asked what it’s like to go from the small town of Livingston to jet-setting with politicians, Gilkey gushes, “Sometimes I just have to pinch myself. I have met so many amazing people.”
Indeed she has, interning for Charlie Wilson, the Democratic Representative from Texas whose covert CIA operation to supply weapons to the Afghans during the Soviet War in Afghanistan is chronicled in the new movie “Charlie Wilson’s War”.
Gilkey also worked on the senatorial campaign of the first African-American mayor of Dallas, Ron Kirk.
But of all the people Gilkey has met, the two which seemed most intriguing given the current race for the White House, were Bill and Hillary Clinton.
“I think they are great people. I think Senator Clinton is a wonderful person, a great politician and has done great things for the DNC.
I also feel that Senator Obama is the best choice for change which is why I support his campaign.”
It is interesting to note, however, that Emily’s List, Gilkey’s former employer, has endorsed Senator Clinton for president.
With the previously completed caucuses and primaries indicating no clear front runner in the bid for the democratic presidential nomination, Texas could actually have a role in the nomination process with its earlier than ever primaries.
And Gilkey may find herself back in her home state in time to work towards the Texas primary on March 4.