Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Max Cleland, Bryan Lentz, Paul Lang, and Me

Yesterday I took half a day of vacation to hit a couple of political events, both free (my favorite kind). Both featured former Sen. Max Cleland of Georgia. I’m late posting on this so links to other posts or articles on these events are included; you can see other points of view as well.

First stop, the Iron Hill Brewery in Media, for a rally highlighting Cleland and Bryan Lentz, Democratic candidate for the 161st state house seat. It was a short event, lasting about 30 minutes once it got started.

Cleland and Lentz had toured a veteran’s museum before the rally and Cleland had a number of positive things to say about it. He also spoke about the Pennsylvania legislature’s ill-fated pay raise, saying it was a violation of trust. In the military he said officers eat last (coming from a family of NCO’s and enlisted men I was a little surprised at this) and the legislature had eaten first. Lentz’s incumbent Republican opponent voted for the pay raise.

Lentz introduced some people in the crowd, including Mike Farrell, candidate for 26th state senate district, and some of the people who had served with Lentz in Iraq. The man who had served as the translator for their unit was also there. Lentz and his fellow soldiers are hoping to help him find a way to immigrate. You have to love that. How many people would have walked away and forgotten him?

Lentz pointed out that he took a pay cut to join the Reserves and go to Iraq, in contrast to the legislative payraise. He asked that we judge his future actions by his past actions. In his case, those are pretty good actions. (read Inky article here and Atrios’ take here). Lentz's web site has video of part of the rally here. I counted 30 some people but there may have been more.

Back to the car and off we go, heading northeast on the Blue Route and then the Turnpike.

Cleland appeared at an event for Paul Lang at the Disabled American Veterans post in Levittown. The room was chock full of candidates. Lentz accompanied Cleland. Mike Diamond, candidate for 31st state house district against incumbent David Steil, and Republican Joe Hogan who is running for the 141st state house district was there as was his incumbent Democratic incumbent Tony Melio. (Everyone was civil.) Bucks County Commissioner Sandy Miller, Milt Berkes and other local officials were also there. Patrick Murphy stopped in and was loudly applauded.

Cleland’s remarks were similar to the ones he gave at the Lentz event. He is a very approachable fellow and can tell a good story.

Lang gave a short biography. He graduated from Council Rock High School. He was initially turned down by the Coast Guard Academy but the baseball coach noted his skills in that area and next thing you know he’s in and eventually captain of the baseball team. Lang outlined his service in the Coast Guard, working as a law enforcement officer (wearing a 9 mm on his hip), stopping drug smugglers and unlawful immigrants. One point he made was that the crew often worked with outdated equipment and that his bulletproof vest had expired 6 years earlier. He discussed the incident when faulty equipment broke and dumped him and 8 other men (he was at the bottom of the pile) into the 32 degree Bering Sea. Initially doctors didn’t think he would walk again but with extensive physical therapy he recovered. He has also worked as a congressional liaison and the Department of Homeland Security.

He says he is running for veterans and the middle class, and that Republicans in Harrisburg have made the race a class issue (this point was met with great applause). As a contrast to the incumbent, Lang said he had more supporters with callouses on their hands than connections to special interests.

See the Bucks County Courier Times article here and eRobin’s take here. I counted about 45 in attendance.

It was great of Max Cleland to stop in and be seen with local candidates. Over the weekend he was campaigning with Chris Carney. My thanks for the Lentz and Lang campaigns for letting me know what was going on.


Anonymous said...

I love your blog. It is good to see people get up and do something. Everything counts. Just thought I'd let you know.

AboveAvgJane said...

How very sweet! Thanks for writing, Joe.