Last evening I had a chance to attend an event put on by the Young Voters PAC in a bar on Capitol Hill. The organizer is run by Jane Fleming Kleeb, wife of 2006 Nebraska Congressional candidate Scott Kleeb. It was an accessible event, with a minimum buy-in of $50, and the hook was the celebrity bartenders. A complete list of those who were going to fill that role can be seen here. I was unable to stay for the entire event, as I had to attend a meeting of a non-profit board on which I served. But I want to briefly describe the good work this organization does, and the people I did see while I was there.
So please keep reading. This will be relatively short.
First, I want to quote from the purpose of the Young Voter Pac as it appears on their homepage:
Young Voter PAC will support candidates who reach out to young voters and include us as an important part of their campaign strategy. Progressive candidates who mobilize young voters and speak to their issues need our help to do it.
We want politicians to pay attention to young people, and we want young people to have a voice in campaigns. Young Voter PAC is one way to change the faces of elections: who participates and who wins.
IF we can get young people to commit as Democrats early on during their eligibility, we are likely to be creating life-long Democratic voters. And it is important that young people feel they have a role to play. We have a real opportunity in the current cycle to change the political orientation of a generation and this organization is one mechanism to help accomplish that. Knowing that is one reason I chose to attend, even cutting short my soccer practice yesterday afternoon.
Another reason was that as an educator I was impressed with the number of the celebrity bartenders who were involved with education. I got to talk with "Everyone's favorit teacher" Rep. Harry Mitchell and with Anthony Daniels of NEA, neither of whom had I met before. Anthony and I plan to follow up on matters of common interest. And while I have previously corresponded with and had one brief interchange with Chairman George Miller before, we had an opportunity to talk about reauthorization of NCLB,and he was quite gracious when I noted that I didn't agree with him on everything, telling me that was okay. Miller was also the emcee for another part of the fundraising, a raffle for political memorabilia, organized apparetly by Christine Pelosi, daughter of the Speaker of the House, who was also distributing literature for her campaign boot camp project. Tickets were only $1.00 each, and there were signed posters from Howard Dean and the Speaker and lots of other interesting items as well. The winning tickets were numbered as high as well over 400, so that was a somewhat successful side event, and showed the enthusiasm.
Among the people not tending bar whom I encountered that would be familiar to this website were NYBri and Mike Rogers (who helped break the story on Larry Craig). I was also able to talk not only with Scott Kleeb, but with Celinda Lake and John Aravosis. Since I could not stay to the end, I don't know if Rep Pat Murphy finally showed up.
It is of course easy to put together an event like this in DC, through which even a lot of visiting political celebrities pass, and which has a large mass with which one can start. But I would think similar kinds of events are possible in many parts of the country. And the raffle of memorabilia is certainly something that can be done anywhere.
It was great fun, good to see many familiar faces and meet new people, and I thought it worthwhile to share the idea more widely.