played in the background at the Democratic Super Tuesday shindig, and WWire was looking for a political candidate who would admit who they support in tonight's race: Obama or Clinton.
In our search to find an honest person
running for office (ie, one who would admit whether they support Obama or Clinton), WWire finally struck success.
Her name: Cyreena Boston,
candidate for the District 45 state House seat:
Boston says: "For me, it's Obama."
A STRAIGHT ANSWER!
"I started out as a grassroots organizer," Boston explained.
As the Democrats gave away prizes for tonight's raffle (A Seaside getaway for Pam Jagla
!), we quizzed other candidates about which presidential hopeful they support.
The hours of drinking free beer and wine were adding up, and maybe that's why AG candidate John Kroger
found the clarity to be slightly more direct than his Democratic rival, Greg Macpherson.
Don't worry. He wasn't too direct.
"You know, I'm torn," Kroger said. "I'd be happy with either."
At this point, Kroger gave full disclosure, saying he'd worked as a deputy policy director for Bill Clinton's 1992 presidential campaign.
"I don't know," Kroger continued equivocally. "If I had to vote tonight, I'd vote for Obama. I think.
I'd be very torn."
The crowd made their own tendencies known, but again, indirectly. When Clinton's Manhattan victory speech was broadcast out loud an hour before, the crowd barely noticed. But at 8:45 pm, when Obama's Chicago speech was turned up on the speakers, nearly all 300 people in the room paused in conversation to watch for half an hour.
They even cheered at times. And in perhaps the most telltale sign of support, there was no line at the bar
during most of Obama's speech.
On her way out the door, state Rep. Kate Brown gave the final squirmy answer about whom she supports:
"The Democrat," she shouted, on her way down the stairs.
YOU'RE NOT GOING TO SAY?
"Because I want to win this presidential election."
The biggest news of the evening: Barack Obama won the straw poll among paid big-wig participants at tonight's event.
Democratic spokesman Marc Siegel wouldn't release exact figures, but he did release the winners.
For U.S. senate, Jeff Merkley won the top spot.
For secretary of state: Kate Brown.
AG: John Kroger.
A lot of action in the past hour, but one theme has emerged: as the results of the Democratic nomination fight remain in flux, no one of substance
is willing to come down for either Obama or Clinton
without a serious amount of tooth-wrenching.
(As I sit down to write, let me add one correction: Marc Siegel, Democratic Party flack, tells me he was drinking Diet Coke,
not cranberry juice. The guy has more fizz than I'd suspected.)
Things got a little more interesting than Diet Coke when Sec of State Bill Bradbury
entered the room. Bradbury, who is giving a speech at this moment
calling on Democrats to maintain their dominance of Oregon politics (and imploring people to give money to the party), was seen chatting with Senate candidate Steve Novick:
Even Novick, known for his direct talk despite his career as a political activist, waffled before finally naming his candidate.
"I go back and forth," Novick said. "I suspect I'll be disappointed with either one of them, bit I'd rather be disappointed in new ways than old ways."
It was left to me. "So that means Obama, right?"
Yeah, he said.
Then there was City Council candidate Charles Lewis, who had just ordered a half a beer
("I have to drive!") at the bar.
Asked who he supports: "I'm not supposed to say," Lewis replied.
"Well—I gotta go for my alma mater. He [Obama] went to Harvard
"Also I think he's the future of the country."
By the way, Lewis gave WWire a scoop: He has a baby girl
(courtesy of his wife Sarah) due June 20.
But the worst "indecider" of the night (as the five-piece band played the Luke-lost-in-thought theme
from the original Star Wars
) was AG candidate Greg Macpherson. Asked whom he supports:
"Um. Well. Ah. You see. It's not. Well. I haven't. You know. It's. Eh."
COME ON MAN!
"OK. I like the inspirational aspect. But I need more than inspiration." Pause.
"I'm not formally declaring support. But I like Hillary."
And Democrats wonder how they could have lost to George W. Bush.
Welcome to the Tiffany Center
on Southwest Morrison, where more than 300 local Democratic Party bigwigs, campaign volunteers, party hacks, political candidates and all their hangers-on are gathered in the second-floor ballroom to watch the Super Tuesday
Each person (except for freeloading reporters and bloggers) paid 50 bones to get into this gig
, and all the money goes to the Democratic Party of Oregon, according to party spokesman Marc Siegel, sipping what looked suspiciously like a plain cranberry juice
when I ran into him near the bar.
I walked in and immediately smacked into Robert Stoll
, a lawyer and local Democratic guru who had backed the doomed candidacy of John Edwards. Stoll was one of Edwards' state chairmen in Oregon and was among the prominent locals mourning
when his boy dropped out
So who is Stoll backing now? He insists that he and the rest of Edwards' state committee
are remaining neutral
on whether to back Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton.
Is he serious? Nobody is backing anybody at all until they get into the voting booth? "Well, there are always preferences," Stoll told me. "We're not making any public statements, especially to guys like you."
Former Portland Tribune columnist Promise King, speaking through a mouthful of glazed meatballs and sipping red wine,
gave me the same line. He's not supporting anybody, he says. "They're allmmmmffame on mmmfm fthingf,"
"What?" I asked. "They're all the same on the issues?"
"MMMfff." Nodding his head.
Then the word came at 6:48 pm: CNN called Clinton the winner in Massachusetts,
where Teddy Kennedy
just endorsed Obama. A blow to Obama's stride? For sure, said state Rep. Larry Galizio
of Tigard, tucking into cheese and crackers. But even an on-the-record
Obama backer such as Galizio, like everyone else this evening, wouldn't say much definitive.
"Well, the Northeast, that's her area,"
Galizio said. "It's not a real surprise. Definitely a disappointment."
Among the luminaries here is U.S. Rep. David Wu,
who encouraged everyone to buy raffle tickets, but not to put them in the same box that he did. (?)
Also present, or expected: U.S. Senate candidate Steve Novick, state AG candidate John Kroger, state AG candidate Greg Macpherson, mayoral candidate Sho Dozono, Sec of State Ray Bradbury, State Treasurer Randall Edwards, and City Council candidates Amanda Fritz, Charles Lewis and Ed Garren.