This month Gabby goes political, dropping in on the election night rallies and voting for the DCCA.
(page 1 of 3)
We couldn’t miss the doings around the historic election of Barack Obama and our own Joe Biden. So before the polls closed, we headed out to the Democratic and Republican election night rallies: Ds at the downtown DoubleTree, Rs at the Christiana Hilton. Intent on maintaining impartiality, the following is our most Switzerlandish observations of the events—even if neutral is not our best color palette.
The Christiana Hilton was eerily quiet—dare we say deserted?—when we arrived later in the evening, so we had no trouble parking as close as the voting in Ohio. The event room had just one (very crowded) bar and election results were projected onto three of the four walls. To those assembled, we posed a question: What would you say to someone at the other party’s party right now? New State Representative Mike Ramone surprised us with, “I wouldn’t have much to say. Rather I’d listen and learn.” Learn what, we asked? “What the Democrats did right to be successful and what makes them believe what they believe.”
“We are not rotten people,” said Representative-elect Ramone. “We will not give up in bringing Delaware back to the days of Pete du Pont.”
Newly re-elected congressman Mike Castle, with his always smartly dressed wife Jane (in a tailored red jacket and full black slacks), likened the state of the Republican Party to his new Wright and Simon suit. With a few alterations and a good dry cleaning, both would come back “fresher and with a better fit.” The congressman stressed the importance of finding new, qualified candidates to restore a right-of-center government. He and the deejay wrapped up on a positive note, Castle by saying, “The people want change, maybe they’ll change back,” the deejay by playing “Only the Beginning” by Chicago.
So back to the beginning of the evening: At 7 p.m. attendance at the Democratic rally at the DoubleTree in downtown Wilmington was still light, but the media was already heavy. (We counted eight TV cameras.) Hard-working campaign volunteers, most sporting Obama-Biden or Jack Markell T-shirts, hats and stickers, claimed the early seats and snacks.
The beautifully braided Rebecca Hadahasa and friends had been canvassing all day in Philly. Color-coordinated friends Joey Contampasis and Martha MacKenzie reported people were patient and polite while voting at 12th and Market in Wilmington.
We spotted two pony-tailed young sisters (same ages as Mahlia and Sasha Obama) toting their crayon-colored national electoral maps. Their proud parents, neighbors to new Governor Jack and wife Carla Markell, told us the girls had “voted” in every major election since they could stay in the lines.
Wilmington City Council President Ted Blunt shared excitement over what he considered the culmination of 300 years and discussed the Delaware Way of politics, which is so important in a state where running into an adversary at Kozy Korner is always a likelihood. The ever-politic Ted summed it up this way: “Collaboration is essential.” Former state party chair Gary Hindes added that the Delaware Way “was ready to go national.”
At 8:01 p.m. it was announced that Obama-Biden had won Pennsylvania, which proved to be a true keystone state. The crowd was ecstatic, including Richard “Mouse” Smith, who told that he and Joe Biden used to pal around at Price’s Run pool as teenagers, and that he sometimes acted as Joe’s personal bodyguard. On the Delaware Way, Mr. Smith had this to say: “We’ll show the country how it’s done.” Then he surprised us with a big bro hug. Hearts and eyes filled.
“Let me hear you say Joe Bama,” U.S. Senator Tom Carper said from the podium. “The change we want and need is almost here.” No sooner had he spoken the words as the critical Florida numbers flashed onto a multiplex-sized TV screen. The crowd exploded.
Before leaving for the Republican rally, we spoke with a dapper figure we’d noticed all night weaving through the packed ballroom like a composed father in a maternity waiting room. Robert “Bobo” Owens (see First State Fashion Plate), a resident of Wilmington for more than 50 years, told us it had been a long wait for the nation’s first black president, and that he was pleased with the system. How did he keep the faith so long? “My parents told me it would happen.” Mom and Dad were right. I’m still blubbering over it all.
Page 2: A Vote for Art is a Vote for Fun