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Democrats Leading the Way

Monday, October 23, 2006

Something's Happening In District 1

Carol Shea-Porter has always been a candidate who will go door-to-door across the district and try to earn each individual vote personally. She has attended town halls, canvassed with constituents and worked hard with her tireless corps of volunteers as oppossed to Jeb Bradley's style of campaigning from inside a bubble. He has had television ads produced and attended high donor fundraisers, but he is not the type of guy who will meet with you individually, and it's beginning to show.

Here is what Beth LaMontagne of the Portsmouth Herald wrote about Carol Shea-Porter this weekend in a story entitled "Taking The Pulse of the People." LaMontagne had been touring the first district, talking to individuals in the various towns, trying to get a sense of how average folks feel about the election that's only 15 days away.

Each town seemed most concerned about the local problems it was tackling,
but the one hot button issue on everyone's minds from the White Mountains to
Rockingham County was the war in Iraq.

"I think we all got bamboozled by Bush and this stupid war," said Fred
Buchholz of Gilmanton. "What I don't understand is the apathy of people.
Nobody's jumping up screaming (in protest)."

...If campaign signs and letters to the editor in the small town weeklies
are any indication, Shea-Porter has been getting her name out through a
grassroots, strategy-driven campaign and could earn more votes than the experts

Traditionally, western Rockingham County and Carroll County have been
the most Republican regions in the state, but political scientists say those
areas are becoming more moderate. Residents who were asked said they were
satisfied with Bradley, but in front of both newer homes and old New England
farms, the Shea-Porter signs outnumbered Bradley's about two to one.

It's going to take a lot more hard work in the next two weeks, but Carol Shea-Porter is builiding momentum on the ground. Bradley is going to looking over his shoulder a lot over these last 15 days and he's seeing Shea-Porter get closer each time.


At 11/02/2006 1:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Poor Jeb Bradley. The audience for his last debate with Carol Shea-Porter in Conway, NH was in no mood to be conned.

When we arrived about five in the afternoon, it was already dark and the thirty or so sing and totem holders for Shea-Porter had to cluster somewhat under the street lights. There were two or three Bardley sign holders as well, but they were sort of over whelmed.

Our dog, even though we'd outfitted her with a bandana and a button, would have none of it. The people shouting and horns honking (the state road has through traffic from east to west) and the waving signs and she opted to get back into her carrier in the car just as quick as she could. Since we went into the elementary school gym about an hour early and were the first to leave, all we got to see were Bradley's big signs being unloaded and loaded into trucks. Presumably they set them up along the drive for when his big bus arrived and disgorged THREE people. (Peggy Shea-Porter was there to greet them).

There were about 350 chairs set up in the gym, but there were probably no more than 250 in them at the end. It looked like the idea was to have the true believers on one side (the front two rows were reserved and marked with after-dinner mints in their own flag-decorated packets, along with pens and file cards for writing questions, while the insurgents would occupy the other. Regardless, the spouse and I took up two seats in the second row, in front of a lady who turned out to be Jeb Bradley's mother. We had a nice chat and then suggested that one of the reserved seats was probably for her and she found it in the first row, as far left as she could go.

When Bradley arrived he greeted his buds and gave his mom a hug. The spouse introduced us and I revealed myself as a non-supporter, which he declared OK since we live in a Democracy. I said that's right but only when it comes to voting—after that all decisions are to be made by the selected and he agreed that's how it's supposed to be. And I made it clear that's not enough and he retreated to his buds.

Carol Shea-Porter made a grand entrance just as the debate was about to begin, while Bradley had been wandering around on the stage, handing out mints from a little metal cannister to all who would take them. He offered one to Shea-Porter, as well, after the cheering died down and she took her place and shook his hand. But she declined. (I don't what's up with the mints. Are they all former smokers?)

The audience was instructed that voicing our approval should be restricted to right after the opening statements and the closing statements. When Carol was done with her one minute, it looked like three quarters of the crowd gave her a standing ovation. About twenty-five people did the same for Jeb. Then, at the end, the only people standing for Jeb were his buds from the state legislature in the first row. It looked like he'd lost most of his audience with his repeated references to Iraq as a “launching pad” for terrorists. He really likes that phrase.

The moderator of the event announced that we were going to have some fun and interspersed the policy questions with questions about favorite flowers, the demotion of Pluto from planet status and daylight savings time. Jeb said that since we'd “always” had the latter, we should keep it.

At the risk of being superficial, let me just say that Jeb did not look enthusiastic. Indeed, he was esconced in a suit that seemed two sizes too big for him and whose pant legs reached the floor. They did nothing to hide that he kept shifting from foot to foot and heel to toe. On our way home we stopped to get coffee and ran into some Bradley supporters (they were still wearing the paper stick-on buttons on their chests) and I overheard one observe that Jeb had been real “serious.” When he thanked everyone for having let him serve, it sure sounded like a farewell speech.

One of the fellows at the MacDonald's allowed as how Carol has a lot of the mannerisms of her departed dad. I asked if that was a good thing or a bad and he said that her dad, a lawyer who had an office down the road in Wakefield, could be real sarcastic. Someone else might have said she has an “ascerbic wit.” And it's true that she twitted Jeb, addressing him as Mr. Bradley, while he simply referred to Carol as his “opponent.” I don't know who teaches these people to be rude, but it's not a nice thing to observe. Maybe we're all supposed to be intimidated by being talked down to—a rubber stamp electorate to go with the rubber stamp representative. Makes sense.

There wasn't a lot of media coverage to register the enthusiasm of the people of Conway and the surrounding area. Valley Vision Cable made a tape and New Hampshire Public Radio sent a reporter for the panel of three professionals who got to ask a few questions, which Jeb was good at not answering and for which Carol called him to task. I didn't catch where the other two were from, though I suspect that one represented the Conway Sun, whose summary was picked up the AP and the Boston Globe online, but which doesn't appear in today's hard copy for which the debate probably missed the deadline. Mostly, the First District election is flying under the radar, maybe because Hodes/Bass has so much more money. The corporate media has long calculated a candidate's “viability” on the basis of how much money they are willing to spend on advertising, which the grassroots in New Hampshire aren't. If we pull this off, there'll be a ripple all across the land.


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