Saturday, June 16, 2012

Delegate's Notebook: Notes and Observations

Fort Wayne Memories
I left my hotel room this morning about 8:00 a.m. for the 15-minute trip downtown.  I hit a detour and ended up going around the Eastside of Fort Wayne.  Nice town.  Lots of free parking downtown, Greg Ballard, and there is some great architecture.  During the lunch break, I took a little walk and found the historic Lincoln Tower, an art deco skyscraper that once was Indiana's tallest building before, I believe, the Regions Bank Tower was completed in downtown Indianapolis.

The Lincoln Tower
It was an enjoyable trip (that's still continuing as I write this).  Thanks to the great City of Fort Wayne.


Carson's Day
Andre Carson took the microphone at the General Session of the convention.  His job was to introduce the Congressional delegation and candidates as well as hit the high points of the last few years in Washington.  He did the job admirably, but the crowd just wasn't quite there.  That's when Carson kicked into high gear.

Gotta Love Carson Stickers
Holding Up Carson Signs
He grabbed the microphone and launched full speed into an off script speech that had the convention center rocking and rolling before he was done.  Carson managed to weave in dragon slaying saying that Democrats needed to slay the dragons that lie ahead between now and November.  "You have to sharpen your sword and get out your toolbox," said the Congressman.

After riffing on dragons, Carson did his best PA announcer impression to introduce the others in the Congressional delegation as well as the candidates.  Earlier in the day, Carson had amped up the 7th District caucus in a similar manner.  There are few rock stars in the Indiana Democratic Party today, and Carson, like his grandmother before him, can control a room.  Carson is a rock star with substance.

Weird Set-up
They made it!
The General Session was set up in quite a peculiar way.  The delegations from Congressional Districts 1-3 were seated immediately in front of the stage.  Then, there was a space of probably 50 feet before Districts 4-6 were seated.  Another space was set up between that group of delegates and the group of delegates from District 7-9.  It ended up that the people that drove the farthest to the convention were the farthest away from the stage.  Also, the home districts of all of the major candidates, with the exception of Joe Donnelly, were seated far away from the stage.

At least the Indiana Democratic Party provided video screens.  They needed them in the back of the room.

Attendance Down but Respectable
Attendance was decent, but it was not great.  About 300 delegates that qualified to come to Fort Wayne couldn't make it to the city, apparently.  I could never get a straight number, but attendance, according to one in the know, was about 65 percent of normal.

Holy Position Change Batman!
State Rep. and 5th District Congressional candidate Scott Reske surprised some folks today by changing his position and pledging support for marriage equality. Reske was one of 11 Indiana Democratic State Representatives that voted for House Joint Resolution 6 that would write discrimination into the Indiana Constitution.

Snubs and Flubs
There are always snubs at these kinds of events.  Andre Carson and John Gregg didn't address the Progressives and Stonewall Democrats Caucus.  That's not really a big deal for Carson, who, despite his straightness, is a member of the LGBT Congressional Caucus.  Gregg sent Vi Simpson.  Reportedly, Simpson and Gregg somehow due to a scheduling snafu never addressed the 3rd District Caucus.

Delegates Register
After many in the 7th District challenged Indiana Democratic Party Chairman Dan Parker's chairmanship formally and informally, the caucus was seated in the far corner of the convention hall.  Parker had said on his critics that the view is always better, "from the cheap seats."  Well, I can confirm that's not always true.  I'm sure the 8th and 9th District will agree as well.

Many Marion County delegates were angered when they tried to check in early on Friday night only to be told they would have to wait until Saturday morning.  There was no official response from the Marion County Democratic Party as to why the delegates weren't allowed to check in early despite a text and a message on Twitter from your blog editor.

All in the Music
Music choices always interest me.  Lots of country played in the General Session.  Toby Keith's American Soldier is one song I recall.  There was a Willie Nelson ditty, too.  Vi Simpson got the Lady Gaga treatment as she came to the stage to Edge of Glory.  After she was done, Katy Perry's Firework played.  Andre Carson got the Party Rock Anthem.  September by Earth, Wind, and Fire played for John Gregg.  Glenda Ritz got, of course, Puttin' on the Ritz.

Best Lines of the Day:
"Mike Pence is, by his own admission, a show horse.  Well, I'm a work horse." --John Gregg

"I still don't like his mustache." --John Gregg's Mother

"I still believe in moonlight on the Wabash. I want an Indiana home where every Hoosier has value." --Vi Simpson

"I will walk from Lake Michigan to the Ohio River to find 10 more jobs or 10 more opportunities for Hoosiers." --Joe Donnelly

"There's going to be a staffer doing 100 pushups after this." --Andre Carson after missing 3rd District Congressional candidate Kevin Boyd's first name and leaving off 4th District candidate Tara Nelson's name, altogether.

"Let's take it back for the people!" --Pat Bauer

"When the Republicans tell you that you don't reflect Hoosier values, I want you to push way back!" --Vi Simpson to Indiana Stonewall Democrat and Progressive Caucus

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