Sunday, May 02, 2004

Party of the First Part

So Saturday morning was the caucus for the 47th legislative district Democrats. Back in February, I reported on my earlier adventure in the caucus process, which resulted in me becoming a reluctant Edwards supporter. This get-together was to choose real delegates that go up to the STATE level which then chooses the hardest of the hard-core to go up to National level at Boston. Yeah, it sounds like a reality-show on FOX. By this summer, three people from the 47th will get the shot at paying their own way to get the convention. I will not be one of them.

First off, the caucus was held at Kentlake Senior High which is (of course) nowhere near Kent, but rather far to the Southeast, towards the geographic heart of the 47th, in Lake Sawyer (halfway between Covington and Black Diamond). We convened in the high school basketball court, home of the Kentlake Falcons. This is an area which has not yet felt the heavy tread of the developers, so its a nice area with a lot of woods (we were near the Elk Migration area). Driving the roads, though, I can see why transportation is such a major issue further to the south and east - every road is a small two-lane, and traffic backs up at the slightest provocation.

The Caucus itself was a zoo. The old-timers I talked to told me about when they would have 10 people for a delegation some years. We had 313 registered delegates total for the caucus, plus a host of other supporters and alternates. Registration stated at 9 and went well past the 10 AM deadline. All four of the delegates from Rush district made it down (Kristine and Geraldine for Kerry, me and Richard for Edwards), which made me happy for our group. Though we were not required to vote for who we said we were going to vote for, both Richard and I carried through with first-ballot votes for Edwards. Much of the rest of the Edwards supporters drifted, so Richard and I were two of the only three official Edwards votes. Without sufficient support, we were cut loose - Richard went to the Kerry camp, and I went back to Dean (I was originally a Dean supporter at the start).

For our Congressional district, the only candidates with sufficient support to more forward were Kerry and Dean. It worked out to 19 state delegates for Kerry, 9 state delegates for Dean. At this stage, we had to choose delgates themselves. Each person interested had a numbered card (shades of A Chorus Line), and spoke out to why they should represent Dean. These ranged from shoo-ins (the local Dean organizer, the woman who was the first local Dean contributor in the area) to college students, to Union folk, to a mother-son team and a firebrand Anti-Bush preacher (who was the walking definition of "preaching to the choir"). We had 19 people running for the 9 slots. Kerry's team (the "larger half" at the other end of the bleachers) had about twice that many. We got off lucky - Phil, who was a local Dean delegate up in the city, said his caucus had 135 delegate candidates. Figure a minute tops per speech and the math becomes horrible.

We got off easy on delegate speeches. Where it truly bogged down on us was vote counting, first for the initial preferences, and then for the delegates themselves. Tyler, who organized our original caucus, had other speakers available, but we exhausted the bag of tricks during the initial counts, so we started to see some real voter erosion as the caucus moved on. I got to hear for the first time 8th Congressional district candidate Heidi Behrens-Benedict (a smart, thoughtful woman) and Geoff Simpson (passionate, loud, and brought the crowd to its feet). Also speaking were Pat Sullivan (enthused and very, very young) and Mike Gregoire, husband of Gubernatorial Candidate Christine Gregoire (older, choppy delivery). There was a local blogger, who concentrates on academia, and a granger speaking out on the return of the blanket primary (which didn't go over well with this crowd - after all, it the organized polical parties that wanted to ditch the blanket primary in the first place).

Anyway, I had gotten there about 9:30, and with the huge lines for registration, speakers did not start until 10:15 or so. Computer screwup and double-checking inital ballots took another hour, hour and half. Then came the choosing of the delegates. By that time it was 12:30, and I had to go. I have no idea if the firebrand preacher made it, or the college students, or the mother-son team. I had to leave before the choosing of the alternates and the passage of resolutions calling for the creation of the Department of Peace, revealed what we gave away exactly to Boeing, and the impeaching the current president. That's because I had the Other party to worry about. Which leads me to . . .

Party of the Second Part

I'll be frank - I dread hosting parties. I particularly dread hosting garden parties, since Kate and I have had the worst luck with them. Last time we did a garden party out here we got cold, hard rain on May 1. Last time we did a May Day party in Lake Geneva, it SNOWED. So a Garden Party here also meant cleaning the house and preparing WAY too much food - Brats soaked in beer, burgers, and Kate spend way too long plank-cooking a salmon on the grill (it was very good, but she had to finish it the broiler - it was too thick for the bed of coals we had).

We had about thirty people who were from a wide variety of our parts of our lives. I've done parties were everyone was from my place of business, but this was a sprawl with people from former jobs, poker games, current positions, long-time friends and others. The end result was a very interesting melange of people. We thankfully have some friends who are fearless social interactors and will talk to anyonel. In particular, we had three couples with infants, and the kids were incredibly well-behaved. Our household is baby-tolerant but I worry about it being baby-friendly and completely baby-safe, but there were no problems (though we did hear from one couple afterwards - their daughter had blown through two nap periods over the course of the party and was now loudly resisting going to bed ever again).

So the food was good and the company was excellent (so I hear - the other problem with being a host is you don't get to smooze nearly as much as you do as a guest). The weather was great and the garden was as good as it has ever looked. Timing worked out great, the rhodies in the front and back were in full flower, and the wisteria was rampant over the front door (I really have to do a bit on the wisteria for this journal). The dandelions were defeated and the moles had yet to invade. Let me say to everyone - THIS YARD WILL NEVER LOOK THIS GOOD AGAIN.

There was one casualty (splinter from the pole). One total brain melt-down (I mangled the names of a friend's wife and child (both of whom I know) immediately upon trying to introduce them to others). No one set themselves on fire. No police were called. Furniture and lawn ornaments were given back-stories. Good food was consumed. Croquet variants involving use of multiple mallets were created by five-year-olds. Bocce was played in the mole-modified backyard. Lawnrolling was recommended. A good time was had by all.

And now I'm taking the day off.

More later,