Thursday, April 27, 2006

Fleeting Impressions

I have gotten out of the house a few times over the last week, and made it to part or all of some political events. Rather than do long posts on the ones I was able to stay for all of or incomplete reviews of those I had to leave early, it seemed better to give an overview of some of the speakers I had a chance to hear, as some were at more than one event. None of these are as involved as I would like but if I waited until I could write something along the lines of “Meeting Patrick Murphy” on all of these people I probably would never write about most of them.

Let me also put in a good word for multi-candidate forums. The candidates would probably prefer a chance to speak at greater length or debate each other, but sometimes listening to someone for 15 minutes is all you need to get a general impression of them. It helps if you can hear them talk for 15 minutes several times, but in a multi-candidate forum at least you can see at least a handful of people. Most of us can’t get to the number of events we’d like so the opportunity to see candidates at all, even briefly, is better than nothing. In general I like to have seen or heard someone two or three times before writing about them, but in some cases I’m making exceptions because I may not get a chance to see or hear them again for some time. For some other recent event postings see Factesque and next direction.

I’d also like to point out that most of these candidates did not mention the events I saw them at anywhere on their website. Chuck Pennacchio seems to have the most comprehensive list of political events in the area so I check there regularly to see what’s going on where. Seriously folks, if you work on a campaign, do what you can to post where and when people can meet the candidate. I swear, I’m going to start deducting points if I have to hunt you down.

Here goes, in alphabetical order, a miscellany of Democrats:

Bryan Lentz – candidate for 161st state house seat. I’ve heard Lentz speak twice now. Two things that struck me about him the first time I saw him was 1) he’s a big guy, linebacker-like and 2) he looks a little different from some of his photos. At that event I was there with someone else and we stood in the wrong line until we got close enough to read name tags and realized that guy wasn’t Lentz, and then had to scoot over to the other side of the room. If you aren’t sure if it’s him, look for the biggest guy in the room. It’s probably him. He speaks well and has a good sense of humor. The two talks I’ve heard, both very short, maybe 5 minutes long, were tailored for the audience at hand. So far, he says, he’s knocked on over 2000 doors. After working in the Philadelphia DA’s office for 6 years, he went back into the army and served in both Bosnia and Iraq with the 82nd Airborne (aren’t there any 101st veterans around here?). He made those career decisions because his parents taught him service matters and individual leadership matters.

Valerie McDonald Roberts – candidate for lt. gov. I’ve heard her speak once, and it was brief. Her speaking style is warm but crisp. She spoke about her efforts on the Pittsburgh City Council to enact police reform. She worked with police officers in the trenches, on the beat. They wanted to clean things up, too. Elected service is not just about ribbon cutting but quality of life. Officials need to take care of problems in their community and are not there just to get re-elected. Catherine Baker Knoll is a wonderful person but PA needs the best person in the job. It’s about ability and capability. Democrats must not feel too comfortable, must not assume success. She feels she is the best person to help Gov. Rendell.

Alan Sandals -- candidate for Senate. I’ve seen him twice on televised debates and once in person, although his talk there was limited to a particular issue. His speaking style has grown on me. He is even-keeled and reasoned. At present he has my vote in the primary.

Joe Sestak – candidate for the 7th congressional seat. I’ve seen him only once and that was a brief talk. The text was very similar to his remarks on Air America so you can just listen to that. However, in person his voice sounds like velvet, or at least it did at that event, perfect for storytelling. He is not very tall and wiry. While not physically imposing he carries himself with authority. I still have some reservations but would love to see Curt Weldon out of office. He went into the Navy intending to stay for 5 years and ended up staying for 30. Talking with people in the district he doesn’t see the optimism in the inner suburbs that he used to. People at home do not feel secure or think the country is being taken in the right direction. Weldon, he says, is not a bad guy, just strange.


LVDem said...

You aren't the first I've heard say that Alan has your vote at this point. I do agree with you that his delivery is very inviting. He must be one hell of a presence in the court room.

plshark said...


Great posts on evaluating candidates. I've met Patrick Murphy and a bunch of his staff, and, sitting at a table, drinking beers with staffers was a far cry from events I've been to for other campaigns where the candidate or guests of honor and staff are stand-off-ish with the "rabble".

Also, Anne Dicker's staff are wonderful --they want to meet everyone in the room (not just to sign up volunteers and contributors), and they are enthusiastic about discussing the campaign, issues, etc.

I would like to get out and meet Valerie McDonald Roberts, but I haven't gotten the chance yet.

Keep up the great posts!