New York has a crush on Jon Tester
Like another eighty hardy souls (or so), I fought my way through the Arctic chill last night to the meet'n'greet with Montana's new United States Senator, Jon Tester. And boy, was it worth it; Tester had the room literally swooning. Some highlights:
New Yorkers tend to be cynical, political New Yorkers perhaps more than most. This, however, was not a cynical event; people are hungering for genuine, thoughtful leadership, and it showed. Whenever you have eighty folks out on a cold night, giving a standing ovation to a freshly elected Senator from far away, that's an inference safe to draw.
Justin Krebs of Drinking Liberally expressed the sheer gratitude obtaining hereabouts at the excellent people Montana seems to be electing these days (Amen), and wondered how us heathen coastal liberals could make clear to people there that our causes are the same. Answer: first of all, the divisive pap rhetoric of us versus them - Coast versus Interior, rural versus urban, etc - is fading, because people realize there are more things that tie us together than divide us. Oh, and please, help out Governor Brian Schweitzer's re-election campaign, because the other side has painted a bulls-eye on him. Schweitzer, by the way, was the guest at a similar event last year, and received a similarly rapturous reception. New York hearts Montana.
Lowlight: the conversation between someone there and a staff person who confessed republican sympathies. "Oh, the Senator is almost a republican". No, he's effing not. No sleazy IMs to teenage pages, no payoffs (or jewel-encrusted Louis Quinze commodes) from defense contractors, no selling out working people to corporate interests. This kind of sell-out trash talk we do not need, period. End of story.
Highlight: asked about energy policy, and specifically about importing foreign ehtanol, Tester (an organic, third-generation farmer) pointed out that it doesn't really make that much of a difference to either our trade balance or energy independence how and from where and what kind of fuel we import. America needs to become energy independent, period.
Lowlight, continued: I don't know where they find these people, but the dude who asked the Montana Senator about a Metro North issue really, seriously, needs to get his head examined, learn the virtues of brevity and topicality, and perhaps occasionally just shut up about his pet peeves, barring their relevance or a growth in his rhetroical abilities. Just sayin'.
Highlight: Apparently, this isn't something done elsewhere; the hissing that accompanies the mention of a name like Monty Burns, the worthless, pitiable incumbent Tester defeated. Other places just boo; New York hisses. Who knew?
Highlight: Susan Zimmet was there, another one of the cast of stellar state Senate candidates we ran in 2006, and who went down, needlessly and due to a lack of support. Susan has the potential to be a state treasure; as New Yorkers, we are lucky that people like her undertake runs for public office. What I said above about the absence of cynicism applies to her, and in spades. Let's get this woman elected in 2008. Brian Keeler and Jimmy Dahroug, too. It doesn't need to be the way that it is.
Casting: this was blogger central, certainly from the moment a cab pulled up and disgorged Brian Keeler (of The Albany Project), Chris Bowers (of MyDD) and Audrey Molsky (of TAP). Expect coverage elsewhere, perhaps less impressionistic than ours (other people take notes, it seems). Also present: self, Debra Cooper, Phil Anderson, and our very own Lilly Cohen, who busily snapped away with her camera and will no doubt post the results later today, cough.