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This past Friday I was privileged to attend a fundraising luncheon with Dr. Dean as the honored guest and featured speaker.

Howard Dean was in Chicago for a luncheon sponsored by Illinois Victory 2008 supporting down-ticket candidates, most importantly our suburban area Congressional candidates, including OTB candidate Dan Seals.

I have often posted my strong support for Howard Dean's 50-State Strategy on this blog and others.  Of the national party leaders, having already met Senator Obama, Congressman Emanual, and several others, Dr. Dean was the one national leader I really wanted to meet face-to-face.

Howard Dean spoke to us in great detail about programs the DNC has put into place which IMHO are a huge part of our current and continuing success.

More below with photos...

First of all, Chairman Dean is such a Class Act.  After being introduced to our hosts, he immediately headed for the kitchen, where he personally thanked each of the restaurant staff members who had prepared this event.  What amazed me the most was that it wasn't faked.  He didn't know that I had followed him into the kitchen.

Dr. Dean gave us some amazing background to what the DNC has been doing.  He spoke about how the Republicans have been gathering voter data for the past fifteen years, and how his goal was to duplicate that effort.  He spoke about how he had hoped to have a database in place for 2012, but in fact it had been pilot tested in 2006 and is now fully operational.

If you've worked on down-ticket races, you probably have heard of or have experienced using "The VAN" as it is known.  This amazing tool for Voter ID and GOTV is FREE.  

Well, almost free...  The "cost" to a down-ticket race is that by using The VAN, the campaign is providing the Voter ID information back to the national party.  One more piece of Dr. Dean's 50-state strategy :)

The luncheon was sponsored by Illinois Victory 2008 which is a local party committee created to help down-ticket races in and around Chicago.  The host was State Comptroller Dan Hynes, who was filling-in for Senator Dick Durbin (on the road for Obama).  Over 100 contributors attended, as well as some of our great candidates including:

Scott Harper, IL-13  (Scott's is the "sleeper race" in the Chicago area, suddenly more winnable than before, and his campaign is a very good place to send any extra dollars you might have.)

Scott is a most interesting candidate and a most interesting person.  He has been a small business owner, creating a firm called Closer Look.  In addition to his personal business experience, Scott has an MBA from University of Chicago as well as an additional Masters Degree from Oxford in England.

Scott's opponent, Republican Judy Biggert has been in office since 1999, and is one of those loud voices we should replace.  While Biggert has name recognition, the changed economic climate makes her a prime target.

State Senator Debbie Halvorson, IL-13 Open Seat (Another great candidate who is running against millionaire self-funder Marty Ozinga, and really needs our support.)

From her website:

Debbie Halvorson is a lifelong resident of the 11th congressional district. She grew up in the south suburbs and currently lives in the village of Crete in eastern Will county. For the past decade, she has been a voice for progress in the Illinois State Senate. She’s also the first woman elected to Majority Leader in Illinois history.

Debbie has built a reputation in Springfield as one of the hardest working legislators in our state. Her constituents have sent her back to the Senate four times because of her dedication to finding solutions for their needs.

Her experience includes 14 years as a small businesswoman and three years as the Crete Township Clerk. She has also been a teacher—Debbie has lectured at her alma mater, Governor’s State University.

Colonel Jill Morgenthaler, IL-06, running against freshman Peter Roskam (R) (Yeah, I missed your handshake pic with Howard Dean.  Sorry, Colonel.)

From her website:

From 2005 to 2007, Jill served as Illinois’ Homeland Security Advisor.  As the top homeland security official in Illinois, Jill worked closely with federal authorities to assess potential terror threats to the region, and led the state’s efforts to keep Illinois families safe.

During her tenure, Jill implemented the first uniform radio system for first responders in Illinois history, enabling state, local and campus police to communicate during emergencies and coordinate their efforts.  Jill also oversaw the placement of command vans throughout the State of Illinois, decreasing response times to emergencies and disasters.

Jill began her military career in 1976, following in the footsteps of her father, a career Marine officer, who served in Vietnam.  In her thirty years of active and reserve duty, Jill served in hotspots around the world.

In 2004, Jill served ten months in Iraq. She was awarded the Bronze Star for her service.  Jill served as a peacekeeper in Bosnia in 1996, and earned the Humanitarian Service Medal for her work resettling Kosovar refugees in 1998. She has also served in South Korea and Germany.  She received the Legion of Merit upon her retirement as a Colonel in 2006.

Not attending, but also supported by this fundraiser were:
Dan Seals, IL-10 running against Mark Kirk (R) and top of the Kos list of OTB candidates.
Congresswoman Melissa Bean, IL-08
Congressman Bill Foster, IL-14

Diaries like this one from Democratic Tribune, Obama's Ground Game Pummeling McCain - In Red Ohio detail how the Obama Red-State Strategy is working.

But I have been convinced for a very long time that our success this year is a marriage of several dreams - Dr. Dean's 50-state strategy, the interactive netroots dream of Markos and a few others, and of course the amazing campaign of Senator Barack Obama.
Last and least, I need to post the brag pic.  I'm a happy man.

Originally posted to Eman on Mon Oct 13, 2008 at 12:08 PM PDT.

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