Marco Rubio volunteer knows the political ropes

Marco Rubio:

Money Raised in Georgia: $523,387*

Total Contributions: 1,280*

Notable Endorsements: U.S. Reps. Austin Scott and Lynn Westmoreland; Former state Republican Party Chairmen Alec Poitevint and Chuck Clay; Cobb County District Attorney Vic Reynolds, Cherokee County District Attorney Shannon Wallace; Numerous state legislators and local city and county officials

Recent Visits: Rubio will headline a rally in Kennesaw Saturday.

*Source: Federal Election Commission Reports through Dec. 31, 2015

Jason Anavitarte sees so much of himself in Marco Rubio. They’re both Hispanic. They both courted public office at a young age. They both believe in a conservative America.

The two Republicans shared all that when Anavitarte met Rubio a year ago in Atlanta. They only talked for 15 minutes, but Anavitarte experienced that magic moment common to so many campaign volunteers, when belief in a candidate rises to something approaching a shared sense of destiny.

“Our stories were so similar,” Anavitarte said. “I wanted to get this guy elected president.”

Today, the 37-year-old Paulding County resident is smack in the middle of the Rubio campaign, multi-tasking all over the state. He’s helping craft the ground game. He’s coordinating campaign volunteers. He’s sitting in on strategy sessions, meeting with donors, courting endorsements.

Through it all, Anavitarte (pronounced Ana-vitar-tay) remains a volunteer, albeit an uber-volunteer. He’s donated time to other political campaigns over the years, but never had this much clout.

Political campaigns attract a variety of volunteers, from breathless newbies flush with belief in a candidate, to soccer moms who call voters between fixing dinner and putting the kids to bed.

Anavitarte is neither of those. He lives and breaths the world of politics. He’s a lobbyist for a health care firm, so he works with politicians all the time. He’s volunteered for more than a dozen campaigns over the years, and run for office a few times.

Make no mistake, even as he presses the case for Rubio, he is gaining something for himself, enhancing his own political bona fides as he strengthens professional contacts and relationships.

That’s not to undermine his belief in Rubio, which runs as deep as their similar narratives. Rubio is the son of Cuban immigrants, elected in his mid-twenties to a city commission seat in Florida.

Anavitarte, whose dad came from Puerto Rico, was only 23 when he won a seat on his hometown city council in Doraville.

He believes the 43-year-old Florida Republican’s conservative profile, with its emphasis on the military and family values, aligns well with the state’s GOP voters. Georgians will vote in the “Super Tuesday” primary March 1.

“This is where the country needs to go,” he said. “We don’t need the same old leaders.”

Much of Anavitarte’s zeal for politics stems from his mother, who herself wasn’t political. When she married, Jean Anavitarte became a stay-at-home mom and an avid community volunteer in Doraville. Jason often tagged along to church events, school functions and nursing homes. Those times connected him to his community.

He began volunteering on local political campaigns in his early twenties, starting with calling people he knew personally. More campaigns followed. By the time he volunteered for Gov. Nathan Deal’s re-election a few years ago, Anavitarte was chatting up people on the phone, raising money, passing out leaflets, and planting yard signs all around his current home county of Paulding.

Apart from Rubio’s politics, Anavitarte admires his gumption. When Rubio won his U.S. Senate post, he took on the former governor of Florida for that seat, a much older and established candidate.

“(Rubio) stood up for his beliefs. He didn’t just wait his turn,” Anavitarte said.

It was with much the same thinking that Anavitarte ran as a young upstart for his local City Council. He succeeded in becoming one of the youngest Hispanics elected in the state.

“They told me I couldn’t win, and I did.”

He’s hoping the same for Marco Rubio.