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Sunday, October 16, 2005


An Evening With The DNC (Or One of Them, At Least): Mike Honda (D-CA) Makes the Trek North

I and a bunch of other Democrats here got a special treat yesterday.

Congressman Mike Honda, (D-CA 15th District) paid us a visit this past weekend.

He's the First Vice Chair of the DNC and this past weekend was the Alaska Democratic Party Central Committee meeting, held here in Fairbanks.

So, as part of his duties, he came up here to meet with us and see how Democrats are doing in the Last Frontier.

We had a banquet in his honor down at the Best Western hotel on South Cushman yesterday. It cost $35 to get in, but it was well worth it.

I got there at around 6:15 (the evening was scheduled to start at 6:30) and met up with a friend of mine whom I had realized was coming to this event. Andy is originally from Minneapolis, but moved up here about a decade ago to help keep ANWR out of th oil companies' greedy hands. He'd just gotten off the plane a few days ago after spending two weeks in D.C. lobbying for the Refuge.

We wandered around the lobby for a minute or two before he asked one of the employees where the dinner was to be held. We were told it was upstairs, and after a couple blind leads, we found the room.

Paul, another one of our mutual friends (who is a Japanese-American from Hawaii) and fellow Esterite, was sitting over at a corner table. We migrated over to his table and sat down. We spent a few minutes hobnobbing together before the guest of honor came in. The room was beginning to fill up by then (even though it was still early) and when I called out his name, the congressman came over to our table. He shook our hands and we welcomed him to Fairbanks.

A couple other friends and fellow Esterites, Ed Davis and Sean McGuire, showed up a few minutes later, and we all gathered around the table to talk politics.

We were all happy about the local election results from the October 4th election. The food was being laid out on the table, and after it got past seven or so, people started lining up to eat.

Andy and I got in line early and each had a generous helping of the rice, mashed potatoes, and I had a large cut of the roast beef along with my halibut (and salad in a separate dish!).

Everbody lined up to eat, and the line led right past our table. One of our gubenatorial hopefuls, Eric Croft (a legislator from Anchorage) and the chair of the Alaska Democratic Party remarked as we were eating our dinner to "go ahead and start without us" to which I replied that we'd been waiting for dinner for a while. They laughed at that one.

Finally, everyone sat down and started eating. The festivities were supposed to begin at 7, but by 7:30, everyone was still in dinner mode. Andy and I enjoyed our meals so much that we went back for seconds on the rice, halibut, potatoes, and roast beef after everyone had eaten their fill.

Finally, the food was eaten, everyone was sated, and it was time for speechifying.

The new chair of the Interior Democrats, David Bantz, along with the vice-chair, was introduced. He then introduced our state party chair, Jake Metcalfe, who spoke for a few minutes about our local election results, building the party from the ground up, and stuff like that. Jake then allowed Eric Croft a few minutes to talk about his campaign and then he introduced our DNC national committeeman, John Davies (who is my former state representative), who then introduced Congressman Honda.

Finally, Congressman Honda got up to speak.

He talked about our party-building efforts here as being part of the 50-state strategy that Governor Dean is implementing across the country. He remarked that our party here is very strong, vibrant, and going places, just like the state parties he's seen in Washington, Hawaii (he nodded to and exchanged a few words of Japanese with Paul at our table), and other Western states.

Finally, he concluded his remarks with a plea for us to do our part to get rid of Don Young. He reminded us that if we can elect more Democrats to Congress next year, we can and will take the House back. If we do so, we can start asking the questions that need to be asked. That got a round of applause, as did many of his other comments.

Then it was time for dessert and more politicking.

It was a fun evening and one which I hope will lead to a refreshed, vibrant Alaska Democratic Party next year.

On to '06 and then '08!

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