About 5,000 people joined me down in Crisfield today to eat crabs, clams, and lots of other good food and drink. This is a pictorial article about my impressions.
Obviously with this not being as much of a political year as 2006 (my first time there), the business community took most of the slack in getting tent spaces filled up. One person I talked to complained that the event was almost getting to be overrated as a political gathering because of all the corporate presence – he pined for the Schaefer days. But I would think the Crisfield Chamber of Commerce prefers the business showcase and that politics take more of a back seat. Next year’s event will likely be the same way as there’s only two races on the docket and, while candidates will be established in the Congressional race that highlighted this year’s event, the Presidential race will be down to just the presumptive Democrat and GOP nominees. The truly business-oriented event will be 2009’s, since there’s no early primary in 2010.
Both major parties had a tent or portion of one in Crisfield today. The Democrats had the smaller of the two, and sort of a lackluster turnout.
I’m guessing that their turnout was smaller because they didn’t have their big names coming here. Supposedly Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown was about, but I did not see him. I did say hello to two of our local delegates, Norm Conway and Jim Mathias, at the event.
Meanwhile, the GOP had a portion of a much larger tent (appropriate, don’t you think?) with all of the Tri-County represented.
The only Presidential candidate with any sort of item there was Mitt Romney, as somebody brought a bunch of his signs. But I did see a nice lady with a Newt Gingrich button.
Loking at the Congressional race, three of the four major-party candidates for the First District Congressional seat were in the house, with the incumbent away but having workers there in his stead.
Beacuse of today’s Congressional session, Wayne Gilchrest wasn’t here. At the start it seemed like he had a lot of kids about passing out his items, but toward the end they seemed to disappear. I think the fans below that the Gilchrest camp distributed disappeared quickly as well.
Meanwhile, both challengers on the Democrat side had a small presence, with just a few supporters milling about. Of the two, Chris Robinson seemed to be a little more prepared with his stuff. Here he chats with some of his supporters.
Queen Anne’s County State’s Attorney Frank Kratovil is the other Democrat seeking the nod to run against Gilchrest. I actually met the gentleman, he’s a nice guy – just wrong on the war.
Sometimes I wish I was quicker on my feet because I couldn’t define victory when Frank and I discussed the Long War. (That’s why I do this gig.) But here’s how I define it: we achieve victory when the threat from al-Qaeda and other radical Islamic fundamentalist entities is subdued militarily to a point where they are no longer a significant threat to our security and safety here in America. At that point, I expect the restrictions placed temporarily on our civil liberties (such as the PATRIOT Act) to be lifted. If we withdraw from Iraq now, we cannot achieve that objective unless the fight is brought over here because at this point the military fronts are Iraq and Afghanistan.
So this is the guy you’ll likely see at candidate forums, pictured below:
I saved Andrew Harris, the challenger on the GOP side, for last because he had by far the largest group assisting him at the event. Now, it wasn’t rock star standards but the turnout on his part was pretty good.
Andy actually was a bit late in arriving (about 2:00 or so.) Unlike what I recall about Martin O’Malley last year, Harris didn’t arrive with a large entourage. (It was already there?) He just came in the gate like everyone else.
You know, here’s another reason I couldn’t run for higher office. I wonder if Harris, Robinson, or Kratovil ever got something to eat? Just occurred to me I never actually saw them take a bite.
And it didn’t take long for those arriving to be exposed to the politics of the day.
For the GOP’s part, I did get to chat briefly with Senator Lowell Stoltzfus and Delegate Jeannie Haddaway. Haddaway noted she’d be the speaker at an upcoming WCRC meeting in the fall, and we’ll be glad to hear from her. I also renewed acquaintances with a number of friends on the GOP side, and actually met a reporter I’d spoken to on the phone about the Gilchrest race, Tom LoBianco of the Washington Times. So now I have a face to the name. And he wasn’t the only media person there by any means.
There were two things that surprised me business-wise and one shocker politically.
I took both of the pictures above toward the end of the day. I’m wondering if attendance was a bit off because of the heat and threat of rain. We did have a shower pass by to the south but this year it didn’t rain on the event. The weather was actually tolerable. Either they made more items assuming another crowd like last year’s or they didn’t get the count they thought they might. I suppose it’s the loss of those who paid for tickets but didn’t use them.
On the political side, the first new signs I saw sprouted up were in Princess Anne, the same place a large O’Malley sign has sat for a year (since Tawes 2006.) Those were Kratovil signs. The next signs I saw were turning onto Route 413, where Chris Robinson and Wayne Gilchrest signs vied for position all the way to Crisfield. I only saw a handful of Harris signs with the first not being until I hit Marion. That was shocking to me, but then again, a lot of signs were at the tent so maybe the Harris campaign’s idea was to keep their powder dry. I did hear one Harris supporter complain about that strategy though.
So it was a long and filling day for me. I had a pleasant surprise or two as there were some people who I’d not met previously but knew me from monoblogue. That was pretty cool. Overall, I had a good time as I expected to, and I’d like to take an opportunity to thank all those who put it together because they do a great job working while we visitors have the fun. My hat’s off to you.