Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Warner Greeted By Enthusiastic Crowd and Sunshine

Folks started gathering around 4 PM, well before Mark Warner was expected to arrive. The lawn around the courthouse was dotted with red, white and blue yard signs. There was friendly banter as as upbeat crowd of a couple hundred Democrats, independents, and even some Republicans waited for his arrival. Easily towering over most other folks was Staunton Councilman Bruce Elder. And arriving just as Warner began speaking was JMU president Rose.
A dark cloud and a few drops of rain brought out umbrellas just as Governor Warner walked across the street, greeting folks and exchanging a few words.
Several speakers including Lowell Fulk and Sheriff Don Farley (an independent) spoke about Warner's successful term as governor. Farley, saying he was a country boy and was allowed to talk this way, said "I'm really pissed off at you," while turning to look at governor. As a smile broke across his face, he continued "because you won't be governor again."
As Warner began, he looked to the clouds and speculated that it might be a short speech. In a passionate and fast paced (because of the weather?) presentation Warner talked of the challenges Virginia faced when he was governor and of the practical bipartisan approach that turned a deficit into surplus, invested in public education, and preserved the state's reputation as a friendly place to do business.
As Warner moved into the substance of his speech, the sun broke through the clouds warming the backs of the crowd that came from Harrisonburg, Rockingham, Augusta, Staunton, Shenandoah, and perhaps other more distant places. With the sunshine, Warner turned his attention to issues facing the nation including getting rid of NCLB and taking care of our vets returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. Emerging from all his talk about issues was a core theme: when elected Mark Warner will be a "radical centrist" who cares less about partisanship and more about solving problems and moving America forward.
Sam Rasoul, the soon-to-be nominee of 6th District Democrats for the House of Representatives arrived early and enjoyed meeting and greeting folks. A large number of folks were sporting Rasoul stickers. Sam and his wife, Layaly, found their way to the front and listened intently to Warner's comments.
Also in the thick of the crowd was Drew Richardson who also sought the nomination to run for Congress. Drew withdrew from that race, but his continued activity and presence at today's rally probably signals a future run for office.
Even future voters got caught up in the action. After the rally, Graham grabbed a yard sign leaning against my legs. His dad assured me it would find a place in their front yard.
This was clearly a Mark Warner event, but Sam Rasoul supporters were actively handing out stickers and yard signs. I expected to see more people displaying support for one presidential candidate or the other. I guess most people were here to show support for Warner and put presidential politics aside for this rally. That said, I did spot a dozen or so Obama T-shirts and buttons, but not a single one for Clinton.
Warner's visit got front page coverage with additional photos in the Daily-News Record.

No comments: