But his win for the day may have been holding his own with a crowd that, with an election tomorrow, was focused on local issues and was starting to get fatigued. I missed a couple and deliberately skipped one, but looking back I think I count 16 speeches for the day.$15 an hour gets big applause for @MartinOMalley at Iowa City Labor Day picnic pic.twitter.com/vlDchKebfR— John Deeth (@johndeeth) September 7, 2015
O'Malley arrived 2 1/2 hours into the picnic and after at least ten speeches from local candidates, elected officials, and surrogates for two other presidential candidates. (Hillary Clinton went to the much larger Cedar Rapids labor event today, and Bernie Sanders was in Cedar Rapids Friday to walk the Penford picket line.)
Judging by the applause meter, it was a Sanders crowd. Yet at least 3/4 of a crowd that peaked at around 200 stayed to hear O'Malley, who's not letting a low standing in polls despite a textbook old-school caucus campaign flag his spirits. "I've got the front runners right where I want them," he joked.
But at the beginning of his remarks, O'Malley took a thinly veiled shot at Sanders, Lincoln Chaffee and Jim Webb. "I'm not a former independent, I'm not a former Republican, I'm not a socialist, I'm a lifelong Democrat," he said.
Sanders, of course, self-identifies as an independent socialist. Webb served in the Reagan administration, and Chaffee was elected senator and governor as a Republican and independent respectively.
But even O'Malley was interested in local Johnson County politics, as he reportedly asked county supervisors about progress on the local minimum wage ordinance.
The ordinance has passed two of the required three votes unanimously, with Thursday's final passage a certainty. But passage will likely trigger legal battles with the state and with the county's cities.The 5 supervisors with city fed head Jesse Case @rodsullivan111 @JanelleRettig @mikecarberry Neuzil Harney pic.twitter.com/qoEn1UDj5t— John Deeth (@johndeeth) September 7, 2015
"We cant move minimum wage forward in Des Moines, so we need to set an example here in Johnson County," said state senator Bob Dvorsky.
The minimum wage fight will likely play out in the November 3 city election as well. Four candidates - at large contenders Rockne Cole and Jim Throgmorton, District A contender Pauline Taylor, and District C candidate John Thomas - all spoke and all support the wage increase.
Taylor spoke immediately after O'Malley but commands enough respect as one of the giants of the local labor movement (she was one of the key organizers when SEIU won its vote to unionize UIHC nurses in 1998) that she held the crowd's attention despite the handshake scrum. Thomas unfortunately drew the very last speaking slot, just after the crowd reached the end of its attention span.
Labor has not yet made its endorsements for the city election, but the four candidates who spoke are very likely to get the nod. (Incumbent Kingsley Botchway, who's not up for re-election this year, was also present.)
Also speaking were labor's four endorsed candidates for five school board seats in tomorrow's election: Phil Hemingway, Jason Lewis and Tom Yates for the full term and Megan Schwalm for the two year term. Also present but not speaking were four year candidate LaTasha DeLoach, and Chris Liebig, opposing Schwalm for the two year term. (Update: Liebig notes that Brian Richman also attended.)
And if that's not enough speeches, likely US Senate candidate Rob Hogg also stopped by, and won the crowd over by giving the shortest speech of the day. Smart enough to sense the fatigue, "We need Congress to work for our people and our country again" was literally almost all Hogg said. (We'd still be there if Tom Fiegen and Bob Krause had showed up.)
That's not even all the speeches. For more details check the Twitter feed.
There were actually candidates for FOUR separate elections in attendance: besides O'Malley and the school and city candidates, Lisa Green-Douglass, running in next June's supervisor primary, was also on hand (along with incumbents Sullivan, Neuzil and Harney).
Other politicians present but not yet mentioned: legislators Kevin Kinney and Mary Mascher, and Coralville city council member Mitch Gross.