Sunday, November 05, 2006

Barack Obama, Josh Shapiro, and Friends in Glenside

Yesterday I went out to another one of those “get out the vote” rallies that have been happening everywhere lately. Mr. J had to work so I set up a playdate for the kids and went out in search of political game. There were several events scheduled with Rendell, Casey, big names like Barack Obama, Al Gore, and Nancy Pelosi; the one that best suited my schedule was at the Keswick Theatre in Glenside.

Parking wasn’t a problem. I found a spot about 3 blocks away. The area around the Keswick is nice. There is an inviting looking bakery, Daryl’s Pastries, down the street a bit. I drooled over the store window at Granny’s Sewing Den, a quilt shop.

The line to get into the Keswick snaked down the street for a few blocks. It was slated to start or at least the doors open at 3:30. I got there around 3:15 and there were very few tickets left. The theatre can hold 1300 and 1250 tickets were distributed to people in line. The street was quiet and leafy. The houses were big, old, and in good condition. Some workmen were shoving some kind of tubing down a conduit on the side of one house, one of them standing on a ladder that those of us watching did not think was well secured. I saw Joe Hoeffel walking down the sidewalk across the street, in jeans and a blue sweater, sans entourage.

Eventually the line started to move. I didn’t check my watch but my guess is we were all seated by around 4:00. There were very few empty seats. The Keswick is a beautiful theater. We took the kids to a performance of “The Nutcracker” there a few years ago and many years ago Mr. J and I went to hear Tracy Chapman give a concern there.

Josh Shapiro, who is running for reelection to his second term representing the 153rd state house district, acted as master of ceremonies. On stage with him were candidates Jeff Albert (candidate for the 12th state senate), Marcel Groen (county party chairman), Greg Holt (former Abington commissioner), Larry Curry (incumbert in the 154th state district), Rick Taylor (candidate for 151st state house), Mike Paston (candidate for the 152nd state house), Ruth Damsker (county commissioner), LeAnna Washington (incumbent in the 4th state senate district), Bill George (president of the PA AFL-CIO), and Tony Payton, Jr. (candidate for the 179th state house). He acknowledged Democratic Abington Township commissioners -- Gail Weilheimer, Michael O'Connor, Les Benzak, and Lori A. Schreiber. (There is another D on the board, Wayne Luker and I don’t know if he was there and I just missed his name or if he wasn’t there.) He also acknowledged Cheltenham commissioner Jeffrey A. Muldawer, Upper Dublin commissioner Bob Pesavento, Aleta Ostrander of the Hatboro borough council. He pointed out former congressman Joe Hoeffel in the crowd to loud applause. Municipal or township party chairs Michael O’Connor of Abington and Deb Crowe of Upper Dublin were also acknowledged.

Shapiro said voters have the power to elect three new congressional representatives from Montgomery County (Lois Murphy, Patrick Murphy, and Joe Sestak) to work with Rep. Allyson Schwartz. We need eight state house seats to become the majority party and there are four in this area. We need to stop the agenda of discrimination and division. It not about just electing people with a D next to their name it is about electing the right people. We need economic growth for all and not just a privileged few. Democrats will actually solve problems and no longer divide the American people. In this election, as goes Montgomery County, so goes the country and the commonwealth. You have the power. You have the power. You have the power.

He then introduces Montgomery County party chair, Marcel Groen. He says the democrats are no longer the underdog and that Pennsylvania is ground zero. He also says the only thing that can stop is our own apathy.

Shapiro introduces Rick Taylor, candidate for the 151st state house. Taylor discusses open space, education, and property tax reform.

Shapiro comes back to the microphone and talks about the city and suburbs working together to address regional problems. He mentions Tony Payton, Jr., Democratic candidate for the 179th state house, who is on the stage but doesn’t formally address the audience.

Shapiro then introduces Mike Paston, Democratic candidate for the 152nd state house, calling him an entrepreneur. Paston is a polished speaker. He said when people told him to turn back the clock last weekend he thought it was a GOP slogan. He said good people can have good government if they get out and do something about it on Tuesday.

Shapiro introduces Jeff Albert, Democratic candidate for the 12th state senate district. Albert talks about marching with Martin Luther King, Jr., and chairing the Civil Rights Law Review at Harvard. He mentions that Barack Obama was the first African American to edit the Harvard Law Review.

Shapiro introduces Larry Curry, incumbent Democratic representative in the 154th state house district. Curry mentions that the Eagles are taking Sunday off so we can all work the phones, etc., to get out the vote.

Shapiro introduces LeAnna Washington, incumbent Democratic senator for the 4th state senate district. She says we don’t want a football player running our state. We don’t want someone who knows nothing about politics.

Shapiro discusses the importance of labor’s support, acknowledges labor leaders in the audience and introduces Bill George, president of the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO, who mentions Rendell’s work for an increase in the minimum wage.

Shapiro introduces Patrick Murphy, Democratic candidate for the 8th congressional district. Murphy says the number one reason people vote is that they were asked and that boots on the ground win elections. He says the Democrats are not the party of fear but the party of hope.

Barack Obama took the stage to great applause at 5:05. He says the candidates in Pennsylvania are standard bearers of what is going on in the country. He said our country was built on the audacity of hope. This is the title of his most recent book, a phrase he heard from the pastor of his church. Obama said we should see the country as it could be not as it is. The thirteen colonies got together and said “let’s form a country.” Abolitionists worked to rid the country of slavery. Women realized they were smarter than men and wanted to vote also. In foreign policy he is tired of our government sound tough and acting dumb. People are asking tough questions and that is good. The American people are good at their core, but they get confused sometimes. When people pay attention, those in power are in trouble.

Sen. Obama finished his remarks and Bob Casey, Jr., and Gov. Ed Rendell were expected. Unfortunately I had imposed on my friends as long as I could and had to leave to dash to the car and go collect my children. Obama's remarks were more conversational than those he gave recently at Temple, but just as spellbinding.

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