Feb 18, 2004
“This is just the beginning!” - Ben Chandler
At 8:08 PM tonight Milton Evans electrified the hundreds of people gathered at the National Guard armory when he introduced them to the new Member of Congress for Kentucky 06, Ben Chandler.
Waves of applause and screams of approval engulfed Evans, a Korean War veteran and an animating spirit of the Chandler campaign. The large crowd that had gathered WAS Kentucky. Men and women; young and old; black and white, yellow and brown; union workers, small business people and representativces of the professions; the list goes on.
Too often, Republicans have used these distinctions to divide us. But those people gathered tonight would not allow that to happen. They were united by a force greater than their differences: The hopes and dreams they shared in common.
And so they roared their approval. Ben…excuse me, Congressman Chandler (that really feels good, just try saying it a few times), spoke relatively briefly, then spent more than an hour mixing with the crowd.
I left with Dan Manatt, who had been shooting the event for our video, as we needed to return to Lexington where the DCCC celebration was in full swing. Ben Chandler would be coming soon to talk to us, and we needed to get there before he did.
We had only gone a mile or two when the automobile in front of us was involved in a terrrible accident with a truck. Several people were injured, two women appeared extremely so. Within seconds we had reached the “911” operator and were trying to identify where we were when the first squad arrived. While I was still on the phone with the State Police dispatcher, three more squads arrived with other sirens coming in the difference. The police kept us for quite a while, but finally let us go after taking all of our information. (Please say a prayer for those who were injured tonight. It looked pretty serious and they could undoubtedly use your help).
BEN CHANDLER AND THE DCCC EVENT
We returned to the Ramada where the DCCC party was taking place. (Because our name is a mouthful, we are known to everyone in the Washington, DC political community as the D-Trip—easier, yes?)
However, we learned that Congressman Chandler (I know, it’s not official until he’s sworn in, but ...) was still shaking hands with people but wouldn’t miss coming to this for the world.
At 10:18 PM, Jim Bonham, the D-Trip’s Executive Director introduced Ben Chandler—and pandemonium erupted. The applause and chanting lasted for more than three minutes (I really timed it), before Congressman Chandler began to speak and hushed the crowd.
He began with three words: “You are fantastic!”
The crowd erupted again.
Now I didn’t have a tape recorder, don’t know shorthand, and like everyone else, I’m seriously sleep deprived, so I didn ‘t get everything he said. But I got a number of the highlights and the quotes are 98% accurate. Here is part of what Ben Chandler said to the D-Trip volunteers.
“Early in the morning, and late at night, you guys are the best and we couldn’t have done it without you.” ...
...“This is the first step in taking the House back. They said the Democratic Party in Kentucky was dead, but folks, it ain’t dead!”
Chandler recounted that Senator Mitch McConnell (whom I might add loves having things named after him in Kentucky as much as he hates campaign finance reform anywhere), had said that he would “bury us in money.” McConnell also proclaimed that “The day Chandler announced would be his very best day.”
Chandler pointed out to laughs and more applause, “Well it wasn’t my best day.”
Congressman Chandler ended with these words, “We have created momentum nationally. Next stop is South Dakota!”
Yep, and we intend to do it all again. But we sure are going to need your energy, advice and help.
I’m afraid that I have to get up again in about 3.5 hours to catch a flight. Then do it one more time the next day. But Steve is working on materials as well, and you will probably hear from him before you hear more from me.
Sorry that we haven’t had the chance to respond to some of the questions and comments. Don’t worry, we will.
Thanks and WHAT A GREAT VICTORY! Thank you to everyone who helped make it happen. We’re also going to be posting more pictures, information about some of the things our volunteers did, and information about some of the things that some of you did in the blogosphere. But first SLEEP!