Joe McNamara couldn’t look happier Saturday morning. He had good reason to be as people streamed into State Democratic headquarters at 200 Metro Center Boulevard to sign sheets for the party’s presidential candidates in order for them to run in the state’s Democratic primary on April 28.
“Yang is here and so is Bernie,” he said, pointing in the direction of the adjoining room where supporters of the candidates stood behind tables of campaign material including fliers, lapel stickers and depending on whether they had the money, as could be found at the Mike Bloomberg table, buttons. Indeed, a life-sized cutout of Yang was there to greet you. His supporters took advantage of their position just inside the door, engaging people in conversation. Spread at the Yang table were sheets, separated by towns and cities, filled with the names, addresses and signatures.
“We’ve got over 1,000, but we want to make sure,” I was told.
The signatures of 1,000 registered voters are required for the candidate to appear on the ballot. Surely not all of those signatures had been garnered Saturday morning, as campaign supporters for other candidates were reporting fewer than 200 signatures.
It wasn’t the number of signatures that I found interesting.
The only restriction for a signature to be considered viable is that it is from a registered voter in that town. It matters not if you are a registered Democrat, Republican or unaffiliated. And there’s no restriction on the number of candidates you can sign for. Sen. Erin Lynch Prata, like many of her elected colleagues at the State House, started at the Yang table and went around the room signing the sheets of all the candidates represented.
I did the same, which surely surprised some people because, I guess they figured, members of the media stand on the sidelines, take pot shots and refrain from getting involved in the process. Just to be fair, I stopped over at State Republican headquarters at Airport Plaza Monday morning to sign Trump’s papers. Party first vice chair Gina Catalano and volunteer Louise Palazzola reported that well over 800 signatures had been collected since the signature sheets became available last Thursday.
No question the numbers of signatures is critical to getting a candidate on the ballot, but what really caught my attention was the mood I found at Democratic headquarters Saturday. I looked on as Linda Rockwell signed papers for Bloomberg and pinned on a button offered by Cara Cromwell. Feet away stood Lt. Gov. Daniel McKee, who is supporting Joe Biden. Linda was pleased to talk with Dan and willingly picked up a Biden fan for a photo of the two of them.
Would a Biden supporter be wearing a Bloomberg pin or visa versa? I doubt that would be the case as the primary campaigns heat up locally, but for the time allegiance to a candidate was not the issue. Rather, it was about being a part of and supporting the process.
On the way out of Democratic headquarters, I stopped to talk to State Party Chairman McNamara. We didn’t talk about presidential candidates or even State House politics, which I’m hearing will heat up this week as the House takes up the issue of the licensing of compassion centers.
“Were you on the water this morning?” Joe asked.
I hadn’t been out rowing, but I know Joe loves the bay and staying fit. He outlined his daily regime, which certainly caps mine.
He said he rows, but it’s a machine in the gym. He confessed it seems odd, as for those who row know you must feather the oars between strokes. You don’t do that on a machine.
Our goals to stay active are common and there’s no reason to debate the method.
It is simplistic, but wouldn’t it be nice to say the same of political differences?
On Saturday, at least, Democrats were singing the same song. It’s a great process, and let’s give everyone a fair chance of being on the ballot.