... how my grass roots contacts enabled me to hit the big time in State politics.
It’s March first and I’m walking across the bone cold parking lot at the Roosevelt
School when another guy hustles by me. We are both on our way to the Democrat
caucus where the delegates to the upcoming state convention will be elected. The
delegates will nominate the candidates for Governor, Lieutenant Governor and a
bunch of other state officers at the convention.
I recognize the buzz by guy as a politician but cannot recollect his name or his office or
anything else except that I have seen him before at functions like this one. He’s
in a hurry to get inside but that does not stop him from giving me a warm, friendly
greeting which includes a little tap on my shoulder.
I walk through the front door and step into the loud-talking hub bub of the attendees
milling about in the large hallway. I have to pass through a phalanx of workers. Each one is
gathering the signatures necessary to qualify anybody who hopes to be a candidate. Each gatherer
has a clip board that is shoved in front of me while I'm asked to sign the nomination papers of
his or her hoped-for candidate.
Most of the time I have, at best, only a vague idea of whose papers I’m signing.
Not everybody, though. Ed Markey, Martha Coakley, Bill Galvin are all familiar. One
lady asks me to sign for Michael Sullivan who’s running for DA. The name is
familiar but only because my own name is Sullivan. I can’t place a face with his
name but I write my name, address and my ward and precinct number on his nomination
papers which makes this list of names that much larger.
I don’t know how many other times I do the same thing but each time I’m getting
closer to the desk where I’ll sign in. After doing this I receive a paper badge,
stick it on my sweater, and then go in to the meeting room for some conversation
with other people from Ward 7.
It occurs to me that this may be a long process and in an act of prudence take off
for the Men’s room. This means I have to go back though clip-board jungle where I
have to answer each request by saying I’ve already signed.
On my way back I go by the lady who asked me earlier to sign for Michael Sullivan.
She has forgotten me already but when she asks me this time she gestures to a fellow who is
standing beside her. Michael Sullivan smiles at me in recognition. He's the guy who walked by me
when I was coming in through the parking lot.
I say to the lady, “Oh, I’ve got to vote for him.” Michael and I are both chuckling.
She gives me a puzzled look. “Oh, you know Michael?”, she says.
With a grinning mischief he says, “We go way back.”
“It’s a political way back.” I say to the now befuddled lady.
“What do you mean?” she asks with a raised eyebrow.
“It means I met him in the parking lot.”
March 7, 2014