By Jon Easter
What a day! After attending the state convention as a delegate yesterday, I can say that it is a great time to be a Democrat in Indiana. I thought the energy level in the convention room and in the breakout caucuses was really very good. There is no question that this year, on qualifications and on plans for Hoosiers, Democrats easily take the day over their Republican challengers.
This past week, I've analyzed all the state races, so I don't think there's really a reason to go over the play-by-play of the day. Frankly, I can't remember everything that happened or I saw right now. I'm sure it will come back to me episodically. There were a number of highlights and surprises for me. I will also do some convention bests and worsts.
Themes of the Day
Again and again the messages were.
--Keep the Indiana House in Democratic hands
--Jobs, Jobs, Jobs, Jobs!
--Keep the Democratic 5-4 Majority in the Indiana Congressional Contingent
Surprise of the Day
I will go with two on this one. I was really surprised at the margin in the Secretary of State race. Vop Osili carried the nomination by a very wide margin. It was not even remotely close as Vop took a reported 1,215 votes to Tom McKenna's 383 votes. I cannot explain it other than Vop's message must have resonated with voters who made up their minds in the last few days. The result itself was not a surprise. I really thought Vop would win.
The second surprise was the unannounced visit of the legendary former Indiana First Lady Judy O'Bannon. Judy was a great addition to the program promoting unity. She had the Democrats join hands in the convention room and yell out, "Democrats Unite, Victory 2010!" Judy remains a popular figure in Indiana.
Best Speech of the Day
It was close, but I have to hand it to Indiana State Treasurer Nominee Pete Buttigieg. In his acceptance speech, Pete combined humor, credentials, and plans into a coherent message. He instantly made the entire room understand why the office of Treasurer of State is something that they should care about. It was a great speech.
Honorable Mention to Congressman Andre Carson. Carson continues to be the best and most progressive member of Congress from Indiana. With apologies to the other four Indiana Democratic Congressman, your leader may actually be the youngest guy in your fraternity. Plus, Andre always has the best intro music.
Best Political Move of the Day
Brad Ellsworth wins this one. Ellsworth was active, accessible, and in full listening mode. He spent at least five minutes with me alone and at least two more minutes after his staff person was trying to take him away. I finally ended the conversation by saying, "I think I'm holding you up Congressman." He replied, "Not at all!"
As you know, I've been pretty hard on Ellsworth, and I feel that there's another blog post coming where I have to give some credit where credit is due. In short, this is not the same Congressman Brad Ellsworth that I feel received such a poor rating on LGBT issues. Congressman Ellsworth is listening and learning, and, above all, he's a real person. Like his views or not, Ellsworth is who he is.
Honorable Mention-Mary Ann Sullivan waited with us at the end of the line to vote for Secretary of State while many other elected officials did not. They shall remain nameless. Also waiting in the long line behind me was Greg Bowes, Marion County Assessor. Those were just two of potentially many. If you were an elected official, and you did not cut in line, thanks!
Faces to Watch for in 2012 in no particular order (who had key roles and may be a player in two years at the next state convention if there is nobody named Evan Bayh running for Governor)
Mayor Jonathan Weinzapfel, Evansville
Mayor Tom McDermott, Hammond
Senator Vi Simpson, Bloomington
Congressman Joe Donnelly, 2nd Congressional District
Congressman Baron Hill, 9th Congressional District
Bayh, by the way, did not speak, and I did not see him at all.
Democrats, you done good! The ticket is a strong one that seems risky due to its youth. Once voters meet Vop, Sam, Pete, and Congressman Ellsworth, I think the Democratic message will resonate with them. It's a message of change...no question...but it's the right kind of change.
Pat Bauer needs to be the next speaker of the Indiana House! If he is not returned, then we will lose the chance for a Democratic majority for years to come. Don't get complacent and work to keep the Indiana House blue while you are trying to pick up a couple of Senate seats and send our Congessional Delegation back to Washington with a Democratic majority.
I'm fired up about our candidates, and that includes Brad Ellsworth. Let's go Democrats...forward to November! The Republicans need to know that the Donkey Train is leaving the station. Full steam ahead!