Tony Thomas, retired educator and small-business owner, runs the Tony Thomas Family Karate in Columbia, South Carolina.
He's been a supporter of President Obama's from the very beginning—since the day he saw Illinois state Sen. Obama deliver the keynote address at the 2004 presidential convention. "I had no idea that he was going to run for president the following term. But I thought in the back of my mind, he might be the one. And when he announced his candidacy in Springfield, Illinois, I was on board. I was going to support him in whatever effort I could."
That support translated to Thomas donating his karate center to the Obama campaign as a staging location in the 2008 South Carolina primary, housing election lawyers who were dispatched to Columbia-area polling places.
"We worked just as hard, trained as hard as anyone who worked on his campaign," says Thomas.
And today, on the day of the Republican primary in South Carolina, Thomas is bringing the "black belt excellence" to the Obama campaign once again. He hosted 250 South Carolinians who attended OFA South Carolina's action meeting in Columbia: a group of Democrats who are fired up and enthusiastic about standing behind President Obama—and are unwilling to bend to any conventional wisdom about how South Carolina's going to vote come November. Says Thomas:
"We know that everyone in South Carolina does not agree with the Republican platform. This is a group of people whose only main goal is just to make Barack a one-term president and not offer any solutions. I'm happy to be a small part of kicking off South Carolina for Barack Obama.
"In 2008, we almost became a blue state. It was not deep red—we changed the color of it. This year, our intention is to turn it into a blue state. If you listen to the media, they always say South Carolina is going to be red—but we're going to determine this ourselves."