Report: Statewide Democratic Meetup

Lisa MadiganOkay, I just got home and am kind of knocked out but I just had to write about the wonderful time all of us had in Springfield.

The day started out a bit scary when our driver turned up a 1/2 hour late at the DPOE. Fortunately there was enough 'give' in our itinerary -- and traffic going downstate was light enough -- that our bus made it to Springfield by 12noon.

Some of the people who came in their own cars were already at the Fairgrounds. Our advance team was there even earlier to set up. People from the bus came in promptly and we got underway at around 12:30am. I was expecially happy to see a number of people from Springfield itself as well as a couple of people from the 10th Dems! We started with the Pledge of Alliegence, then I gave my talk explaining what DemNet is and how we got involved.

Dan Dennison introduced Attorney General Lisa Madigan who talked about her life as IL AG as well as the importance of being involved in the political system. I think for many of the people there, this was the first time they had seen Lisa speak and she made an extremely good impression!

Lt. Governor Pat Quinn was kind enough to drop in at this point and I enlisted Nora Rowley who's a major Pat Quinn fan to introduce him. Naturally Nora was up to the task and did a wonderful job -- even at such short notice.

After Pat Quinn, Leah Yarrow introduced Alderman Joe Moore who gave us a real good thumper on the importance of grassroots and how the political machines of yore were being replaced by progressive groups of volunteers whose motivation isn't a job with the city but the vision of making things better. Joe Moore knows grassroots!

Next we got a report from Linda Beale on all the wonderful things Volunteers for a Better America are doing in Champaign. Finally we got a reprise by Dan Dennison of the activities they're doing up in the Northern Suburbs and last but not least a fellow by the name of Vic talked about his campaign for State Rep in one of the local districts.

We had a great time! Joe Moore led a contingent to see the Butter Cow but we all got back together by 1:45pm to go to the Director's Lawn to see the Official Rally.

I don't know why but it sure seemed like there were more people this year than last. Our very good friends at the DFI were there with a lovely large banner! I also got a chance to speak with one of my favorite bloggers Archpundit -- learning the mystery of his Missouri/Illinois connection (he comes from Normal)! The official rally got underway. We heard everyone from Margaret Blackshere to Obama. Blagojevich spoke as well.

The Official Rally seemed a bit short this year and once it was over people cleared out pretty quickly. We had enough room in our schedule to fit in about an hour and a half more of sight-seeing. We went through a number of the livestock pavillions, eventually ending up in the Dairy Building with the aforementioned Butter Cow. Above the cow flew a winged-butterfly. We would have dived in for one of the cream puffs and eclairs that were arranged so temptingly in glass cases but we had already wolfed down a porkchop-on-a-stick, a ribeye sandwich and a huge ice cream cone for salad. The strangest foodstuff on sale was something called a "Dutch Fat Ball" which, like most things at the Fair, looked like some kind of fried pastry though I didn't get close enough to ask.

The ride back went swimmingly with two unnamed inviduals slipping in a couple of bottles of Illinois wine for us to sample as we rode back up 55. We got back at a little after 9pm.

A note that I just got in about the experience kind of parallels my own feelings about the day:
"I was on the very front row of the official rally! However, I enjoyed our DemNet meetup more."

It was a great time. Special thanks to all of our Meetup Hosts, to all of our speakers, thanks to Christina for keeping track of the RSVP's, and lastly, thanks to our great friend and patron Alex Armour.

[see photos...]