July 16, 2008

Optimism reigns as Democrats open Obama HQ

Full of excitement and optimism, some 250 Democrats celebrated the opening of Barack Obama's Racine campaign headquarters Wednesday night.

The former Historic Century Market on Sixth Street was a spacious, hospitable party -- a big table of food and beverages, partisans decked out in campaign wear. Renee Lee of Racine, below, wore a dress with an unambiguous message. Even a few candidates for lesser offices were present, working the floor. And, of course, the requisite sign-in sheets for volunteers of all types.

This is not the first Obama campaign headquarters in the area; nor will it be the last. The first opened last week in Kenosha; coming soon will be full-time campaign operations in Janesville, Beloit, Ft. Atkinson and Whitewater, among others.

That was good news to the assembled Democrats, who appear to be looking forward to November with unusual optimism. State Sen. John Lehman declared, "I've been waiting 40 years for this kind of excitement. You could tell then, during the Democratic primary, that something was happening. Well, we have the same feeling now with Barack Obama. *(See below.)

"Barack Obama is our candidate, and he is going to win ... it's giving me goosebumps," Lehman said, to applause.

State Rep. Bob Turner echoed the same theme, adding, "This is my most exciting moment as a Democrat since JFK. We have the opportunity to transform history." In a not-too-subtle dig at Republican candidate John McCain, Turner said, "Being shot down in Vietnam doesn't qualify you to be president."

One of the highlights of the office opening celebration was a long table, lined with cups with the names of prospective vice presidential candidates. Democrats "voted" for their favorites by dropping quarters in their cup of choice. And the winners were... Hillary Clinton came in first (hers was the only cup I saw with greenbacks stuffed in it); Wisconsin's own Russ Feingold came in second; John Edwards was third, and Bill Richardson came in fourth. The money raised will help support the campaign office.

Michael Gibson and Sarah Wadleigh with you-know-who
Who knew there are so many VP possibilities?

* I went home last night somewhat confused, after hearing John Lehman extol the "excitement" of the Democratic primary "40 years ago." So I sent him a quick note this morning, asking what I might be missing, since all I could recall from 1968 was the assassination of Robert Kennedy and the loss by Hubert Humphrey to Richard Nixon -- hardly the kind of excitement I want again.

Lehman responded: "I referred in my remarks last night to Chuck Fiala and Jerry Maiers opening a Eugene McCarthy campaign center on Main Street that attracted swarms of young, enthusiastic workers. (This was my first experience working in electoral politics at age 22 some 40 years ago now.) The feeling folks had in those days that "we were about to change things" was reflected in the enthusiasm of the folks showing up for the Obama opening. The Wisconsin Democratic primary campaign that year was very enthusiastic and McCarthy "upset the apple cart" and LBJ withdrew. A groundswell of Racine and Wisconsin Democratic activism really did make a difference.

"I am well aware of the fiasco of the Democratic National Convention in Chicago in 1968 and of the HHH ultimate loss to the Republican nominee, Richard Nixon. I am well aware that 1968 is remembered for rioting in the streets, the King and RFK assassinations and much turmoil. But in Racine Democratic politics, the energy and excitement of the Obama event and campaign is the best we have seen in a long, long time. There is a feeling that we may be making history here ... with the election of the "skinny African-American guy with the funny sounding name." You were there last night. Wouldn't you agree that there was a great deal of energy in that new headquarters?"

Well, yeah! And thanks for the explanation, for those of us who weren't here in '68.


  1. Concrete Katie7/17/2008 6:50 AM

    How about Colin Powell for VP.

  2. Sorry only Muslims need to apply

  3. "This is my most exciting moment as a Democrat since JFK."

    The person or the movie?

  4. Why must it always come back this 'Muslim" thing? First of all, Obama is not now nor has he ever been, a Muslim. Second: why must ALL Muslims be painted with the same broad brush of 'terrorists'? For crying out loud, ALL Muslims are no more ALL terrorists than all Christians are hateful and mean spirited as John Hagge and Ron Parsley. Or ALL Republicans are as mentally challenged as GW Bush.

  5. It is a shame that come November we will have two corporate centrist candidates running as the establishment candidates. Third party time. My only choice will be between McKinney or Nader. Probably McKinney as she and the Greens are trying to build a movement.

  6. At least Obama was never brainwashed by the North Vietnamese to become a pawn of the Manchurian commies and the evil Angela Lansbury like John McCain was.

    I think I saw that on a New Yorker cover.

  7. "Being shot down in Vietnam doesn't qualify you to be president."

    Unfortunately, I don't think being Editor of the Harvard Law Review qualifies you to be President either...

  8. Barack Obama is a highly intelligent and articulate individual who thinks about law deeply. That is a good thing -- we are nation of laws. He is accomplished in numerous areas and has worked as a community organizer in some of the poorest parts of Chicago. He also has spent much time understanding himself and identifying his goals to serve.

    I encourage anyone to read "Dreams of My Father" who wants to know more about Obama. It, and his other books, are in the public library.

  9. Barry has close ties to a former member of the Weather Undergrondd who has staided on 9-11 that he wished that he had planted more bombs
    has close ties to Tony Resko who not only helped to pay for his 1,000,000 + home but Resko has ties to wait for it... Syrian Military Intel.
    Berry who voted "Present" more offen then any other member of the Il. legislature proves that he has no clue what he wants

  10. Did I miss the address for it?

  11. >>Did I miss the address for it?

    You're not from around here, are ya?

    Obama's HQ is located in the former Historic Century Market at 522 Sixth St., in downtown Racine.