First, I just want to thank my beloved Smartie for taking over this week. Between arranging the Meet and Greet, some side work for the Crashing the Gate Tour on Tuesday, and a very jam-packed work week, I never had a moment to sit and write a post. He forged on bravely without me, and took on all the posting duties himself.
I also wanted to wait and see what came out of Doug Grow's three hours of watching the candidates. Sadly, not a lot on our event, although the bar and the group were both named, so I'm happy.
I got to the bar at about 20 to 6 and was surprised to have people start showing up right away. All in all, we probably hit near 60 people at the 331, although at least 2/3rds of the group were candidates or staff. Keith Ellison and Gail Dorfman had the most people there by far, with some of Ellison's running about tagging with people with Ellison stickers. I was a little worried that the taggers weren't old enough to be in a bar, but considering I'd earlier seen a baby branded with a "Polly for School Board" sticker, I figured we were cool (Smartie said he might be ready to start having kids if I'd stop calling it "having a baby" and started referring to it as "Extending the Marty brand.").
I had a chance to speak to nearly every candidate there, with the exception of Ellison, whom I saw walk in but never found a chance to talk one of one. Erlandson was the first to toast the DLer's hanging by the beer pitchers, causal in a short sleeved black shirt rather than the business suits everyone else had donned. "We're drinking, we're in a bar, I thought I should be comfortable," he declared, apparently staffless and totally at ease.
Savaadera was fun and natural (even suited up), and much younger than I thought he was when I shook his hand at the Obama rally. I found myself completely forgetting he was a politician and just chatted with him rather than drilled him on his platform.
Ember couldn't make the event, but I was able to spend a bit of time talking to her staffers Marty and Kate. I discovered Kate lived a few blocks from me, and we made plans for barbecue when things slow down a little in the summer.
Anne Knapp was one of the first to arrive, and appeared to be having the most fun, both with her campaign and with talking to others. She is now on the DL mailing list and we very much hope that she'll remember the door is always open.
The Wege and I also discussed websites with Tammy Lee, who's site went live yesterday and which, I must say, looks really good. Since she's an independent and in for the long haul, I think it will serve her very well.
Most of my actual campaign discussions were done with either Nelson-Pallmeyer or Dorfman. Nelson-Pallmeyer surprised me a bit in his intense dedication of his staff. I got to speak to him and asked him to explain his position more on the war in Afghanistan, as I had heard he was against it and I believed it was a just endeavor although highly mis-executed. We realized our positions were much closer than I thought, and I enjoyed our discussion quite a bit.
Dorfman was wonderful, talking to me for a good 20 minutes about how much she has enjoyed the campaign. Dorfman impressed me both with her genuine kindness, and the fact that she was the only candidate I have ever asked "What is the first thing you would do once you win?" who gave me a real answer. Often I hear a candidate say generalities about the war, or education, or healthcare. Never before had someone given me an actual plan, with full details. I was amazed by both the passion of her commitment and her intelligence and organization obvious in her planning.
It was amazing how well everyone got along. Because the DLers were so sparse, the campaigners were chatting among themselves, and seemed to enjoy it quite a bit. I was told not to be concerned, that when the balloting starts and people have to drop, they need to make inroads and start winning over each other, so in some ways this was good networking for them, and not just a night off.
Dorfman told me that it has been a very positive campaign, and the candidates truly get along. And with the exception of Nelson-Pallmeyer, who told me he believed the other candidates were copying from his speeches and platforms, there seemed to be no animosity among them. It was a great night of drinking and talking, and we hope to see them all again. Best of luck to all of the candidates in what is sure to be an exciting convention on the 6th.