Monday, May 14, 2007

ODP Dinner: Reading Tea Leaves

Part of the fun in going to these things is picking up the clues about what’s going on in the backrooms. I’m a little new at this, so I pick up the clues that are handprint-on-glass obvious. With that in mind, here’s what we can guess at based on Saturday night.

Dems Are Seriously Going After Regula.

The first person to take the stage to start the festivities was State Sen. John Boccieri, the man recruited by the DCCC to take on ancient Congressman Ralph Regula in the 16th District. I’ve heard from the Boccieri campaign already, so this wasn’t news, but an additional quantum of information indicating that this is a high priority race for Dems in 2008.

Boccieri is a veteran and Air Force reservist. He took the stage to introduce Herman Zerber, Monroe Co. Dem party chair who will lead us in the Pledge of Allegiance. Boccieri notes that Zerber is a WWII vet and that “from a foxhole in Europe this great American cast his very first vote for FDR.” The Senator used the opportunity to run out some observations about patriotism and service.

The Annual Dinner can serve as a coming out party for key candidates. Picking Boccieri to hit the stage first was clearly an attempt to plant him in the minds of the media and the party faithful.

Barbara Sykes and the ODP Are Good

After the election, there were mumblings that the Sykes camp wasn’t happy with the party. And some of us observed that the party had reason to be unhappy with her as she gaffed badly in the debate and phoned it in for much of the campaign.

Nonetheless, it was all good on stage. Party Chair Chris Redfern presented her with the Gertrude Donahey Award – basically Democratic Woman of the Year. He ran through her bio then noted that “campaign for State Auditor last year was just out of reach. . . she made that [campaign] bus a better place for all of us.” When the band played “My Girl” and Redfern and Sykes embraced, the affection seemed genuine. After she left the stage Redfern added, “If you’ve ever been in Canton Ohio when Barbara shouts “Show me some love,” it’s a life-altering experience.”

ODP Hearts Hillary

It’s no secret that Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones has endorsed Hillary Clinton for president, so her “Hillary is Ohio” chant was no surprise. But all through the night, presenters were dropping pro-Hillary lines that went beyond just giving respect to the keynote speaker.

The biggest hints came from the biggest Dems. Unlike the other award winners, Sen. Sherrod Brown and Goveror Strickland gave speeches after winning their awards for co-Dem of the Year. Both went out of their way to underscore support for Sen. Clinton. Sen. Brown – not a typical Hillary supporter – noted that her office is across the hall from his and praised her intelligence and her mentoring of the freshman class in the Senate.

Strickland’s praise for Hillary was the most jarring for its frankness – he noted that Sen. Clinton and former President Clinton raises over half a million dollars for his campaign.

The primary will be decided by the time the train rolls into Ohio. But support from key Democrats in Ohio means a lot in terms of practicalities like impressing funders and securing Midwestern consultants. It also helps build the aura of inevitability Clinton is trying to secure going into the actual primaries.

2 comments:

Lisa Renee said...

Thanks Pho, I enjoyed your take on the State Dinner very much.

:-)

Ryan said...

Interesting to see how things are going there. I'm glad to hear that whatever hatchet that may have been between the party and Sykes has been (by all appearances) buried.