Sunday, October 18, 2015

Sanders, Granholm keynote Johnson County BBQ

The speaking schedule made the Johnson County Democrat's annual barbecue feel almost like two different events today.

The one presidential candidate to attend, Bernie Sanders, was the first speech on the program. He had been gone nearly 90 minutes before the Clinton campaign's surrogate, former Michigan governor Jennifer Granholm, whose flight had been delayed, took the stage.

The Sanders crowd arrived early and many left early. Crowd estimates were a challenge as the event was held in two separate buildings at the Johnson County Fairgrounds - one for speaking and one for eating and visiting. The speech crowd peaked at about 300 during the Sanders speech. Granholm spoke to maybe half as many.

The big news from Team Bernie was local. Supervisor Mike Carberry endorsed Sanders in his introduction, joining board colleague Rod Sullivan as a commit for Sanders.

Sanders broke no new ground today, giving the Basic Bernie Speech. (This is about my fifth time seeing Sanders this cycle.)  It was a four drink speech, with three Political Revolutions and one Billionaire Class but not a single YOOGE or YOOMAN.

No references to last night's SNL debate (earlier in the day Sanders had said Larry David "does a better me than me" and later he noted he in fact owns multiple sets of underwear) but Sanders did joke a little about his dancing on Ellen.

But that was as light as it got, other than joking about how serious he was: At one point discussing Social Security, Sanders said, "I'm gonna bore you with some statistics." An audience member shouted: "Go ahead."

Granholm's speech could not have been more different. She launched into a high-energy script delivered in Dr. Seuss derived verse that touched variously on issues and political events that I thought was an introduction - but turned out to be the full speech. References to a female president got the most applause from a crowd that by that point in the program leaned as heavily Hillary as the early crowd leaned Bernie.
Like that. It was a wittily written speech, but it passed over the fight about the 2008 primary calendar.
Dave Loebsack introduced Granholm, or more accurately his own speech segued into his Granholm intro. Of the current sede vacante Speaker of the House battle, Loebsack said the 45 to 50 member House Freedom Caucus, including Iowans Steve King and Rod Blum, is holding both Congress and the country hostage. "It's not Congress in chaos. It's Republicans in chaos."

Loebsack, sporting a Hillary sticker, gave shout outs to congressional candidates Monica Vernon (1st CD) and Jim Mowrer (3rd CD), both of whom he has endorsed in contested primaries, and to King challenger Kim Weaver.

Bob Dvorsky spoke on behalf of the legislative delegation and stressed the importance of holding the state Senate, saying Terry Branstad would turn Iowa into Wisconsin "in about 20 minutes" if Republicans controlled both the House and Senate. All three Johnson County senators (Dvorsky, Joe Bolkcom and Kevin Kinney) are mid-term this cycle, so Dvorsky stressed helping in neighboring districts, specifically for Chris Brase in Muscatine. (This has been and will be a recurring theme.)
Not a lot of commit cards signed, but a lot of love on the ground for the O'Malley staff, especially Sean McEnerny, who managed Kinney's critical win last year for the 26th Senate seat.

The three US Senate candidates - Hogg, Tom Feigen and Bob Krause - were all on hand, and Hogg and Fiegen at least stayed late (not sure about Bob; like I said, two buildings.)

Also working the room: Iowa City council candidates Jim Throgmorton, Rockne Cole and Pauline Taylor:

I was my usual low key self:

Actually, I was more likely checking the score of a nail-biter Packers-Chargers game.

There was a supermajority of local electeds on hand; Sue Dvorsky and I had a friendly competition going for seeing who could spot who first for the list to deliver to chair Martha Hedburg for introductions. Another guest merits a mention: Linn County Supervisor Brent Oleson, who switched parties and joined the Democrats last month.
And of course we had the silent auction, to which I donated some memorabilia:
A bidding war ensued on this item between Patrick Rynard of Iowa Starting Line and a local activist named Mel (Stahmer). Stahmer was the winner at $45.

Nathan Rifkin of Team Bernie wins the beret for a BARGAIN.

And the MOST important news of the day was after I got home:

With a sign of relief from both me and Bob Dvorsky. (More observations on the Twitter feed.)

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