Disclosure: I worked for the Lamont campaign doing web design and production and some writing for the official blog (from 9/5/06 to 11/07/06).
Saturday, March 04, 2006
Lamont Campaign Meeting in New Haven
A report from the Ned Lamont campaign meeting this morning in New Haven (athough spazeboy at My Left Nutmeg and ctblogger at Connecticut Blog have beaten me to the punch):
First, the bullet points that everyone needs to know, followed by some impressions, some more photos, and a detailed report:
- The official announcement of the campaign will be Monday, March 13th at 3pm (that's one week away) at the Old State House in Hartford. This will be a huge event with lots of press, and the campaign absolutely needs all the bodies they can get there to show up for it. They want people overflowing out of the room and down the steps of the building. They want supporters bursting out of the ceiling and through the rooftop. They want crowds. Bring family, friends, and neighbors. They also need volunteers to help coordinate both in anticipation of the event and for the day itself. This entire campaign is based on turnout and grassroots enthusiasm, and they need both in full force for the official announcement. If you can possibly be there, be there.
- The campaign is pursuing a dual-pronged strategy towards getting on the ballot in November. To get on the ballot, Lamont needs either 15% of the vote of the delegates attending the state convention on May 20th or a number of signatures on petition drives. They are wisely pursuing both - they want as strong a showing as possible with the delegates (51% would be better than 15%) and tens of thousands of signatures on petitions. There will be another big campaign strategy meeting on April 22nd to coordinate the petition drive. Signatures can be gathered beginning April 26th until May 19th.
- The campaign is conducting an extensive voter history project to identify voters to mobilize for the August 8th primary. Voter information around the state is spotty at best and the campaign needs volunteers to go to town halls and collect data, sometimes transcribing by hand.
- The online outreach at NedLamont.com will soon include a "families, friends, and neighbors" program. Keep an eye on the campaign website.
- March 29th, the day before the Democratic Party's JJB Dinner, will be a statewide Ned Lamont visibility day. This will be grassroots stuff, standing with signs at rush hour. It's all about getting the word out.
- Absentee ballots will be available beginning July 18th. If you are unafilliated with a party, you can change your registration to Democratic immediately. But if you are a registered Republican, the switch will take 90 days to become official. (Hopefully Joe's GOP supporters planning on voting for him on August 8th aren't aware of this last fact, although seeing Lieberman scrounge for GOP votes in a Democratic primary would be quite the story).
Much more after the jump:
It was great to finally meet Ned himself, Aldon, ctblogger, spazeboy, and others who until now I had only known through the blogosphere.
My first impression was of an energy surrounding this campaign not stemming from anger towards Lieberman (although there is obviously a lot of that), but based around the hope that grassroots politics can force a more democratic, representative, and responsive electoral process in the state of Connecticut. And that, in the end, the Democratic Senate candidate from Connecticut will be someone of whom all Democrats in the state can be proud. There's an optimistic and forward-looking momentum here that I can only hope will increase.
To the event itself, which started off with campaign manager Tom Swan outlining the strategy of the campaign and the agenda of the meeting. His main points:
- this will be a grassrots, particpatory campaign based not only on Iraq, but on issues like global warming, equality, healthcare, a woman's right to choose, ethics in government, etc.
- Lieberman and his friends have been putting a lot of pressure on Connecticut political leaders, on many friends and political players throughout the state, including Democratic candidates like Chris Murphy, Diane Farrell, and Joe Courtney. With Lamont as the candidate, the GOP will no longer be able to hide behind Joe Lieberman on Iraq and other issues (I think he's talking to you, Chris Shays).
- Contrary to what Lieberman is saying, this campaign won't hurt the party, it's the best thing that could happen to the party. We are going to have this primary in August no matter what Lieberman says.
Next up was a speaker giving details on the official announcement on Monday, March 13th. They're really pushing this as a huge campaign kick-off event. After that, John Murphy spoke about the voter history project which sounds central to their voter mobilization program. Apparently, the only data the state party collects is on general elections, which of course isn't much help with what will be a very low-turnout election like this. The 2004 primary voter list will be helpful, but they need volunteers in all 169 towns to get more data. The campaign sounds on top of this, but they need volunteers to do this thankless legwork.
The meeting then split up into groups by Congressional District. The caucuses for delegates to the state convention will be between March 22nd and 29th depending on the town. Any reigstered Democrat is eligible to vote in their town, so if one wanted to become a delegate, one could possibly attend the caucus and bring a bunch of friends and family, and Ned Lamont might end up with one more vote at the convention. The idea is to have as strong a showing at possible at both the convention and with the petition drive. Some party officials are freaking out about Lamont already - one town Democratic official at the meeting said he received a call from Joe Lieberman's own chief of staff asking "what's up?" with his involvement with Lamont. Discussed fundraisers, events where Lamont can be visible in front of big crowds, writing LTEs.
Tom Swan came back up and discussed fundraising goals and the petition drive, Kim Hynes discussed a whole slew of Ned Lamont events planned for the next few weeks (which I will post here later, and will likely be up at the official site soon as well) and noted that the main campaign office will soon be opening in Meriden. Some participants informed the campaign of upcoming anti-war marches and rallies on the third anniversary of the beginning of the Iraq war.
Then Lamont was introduced and spoke for a very short amount of time. Ned gave a rundown of how he spends a typical day on the campaign: reading up on the issues, calling state political officials and local activists, attending meetings and events. He noted how veterans in particular have been supportive of his campaign, saying they'll be with him "every step of the way."
Ned concluded, "the war is wrong, our priorities are wrong, and we don't have a senator who understands that President Bush is wrong."