As I'm sure most of you know, Ned Lamont defeated Joe Lieberman in the August 8 primary and will thus be running for U.S. Senator from Connecticut on the Democratic ticket. What you don't know is the inside story of how this political nobody came to defeat a 3-term incumbent. So here goes...
It all started last December, when Ned Lamont, fed up with Joe Lieberman's support for President Bush and the Iraq War, decided to run for the Democratic Senate seat... Blah, blah, blah, blah.
The point is, this all culminated in me arriving at the New Haven train station on the morning of August 8, where Actual Rod (yes, THE Actual Rod) picked me up in his 4-door sedan and we began our Get Out The Vote (GOTV) effort for Ned Lamont's campaign.
Rod took me to a polling place where we met an Indian-American kid named Paras, who was also working for Lamont. I think Paras is Sanskrit for Munz, because this kid was absolutely Munz-esque in his obsession with the minutae of the Democratic Party. Tired of shooting the shit about whether "Steny Hoyer will be demoted to Deputy Whip if the Dems don't take the House this year?", I indicated to Rod that we should get moving on Getting Out the Vote.
Rod agreed, but before we could go, he told me we had to co-ordinate with the other people working on Lamont's GOTV in the area. "Who are the other people?" I asked. "Oh, yeah. They're, they're some local teenagers, I think they said they were like 16. They're sitting under that tree over there," replied Rod hesitantly. I looked over and I saw two boys and a girl, none of whom could have been over the age of 12. One of the boys was wearing soccer cleats. The other had a "Vote Ned Lamont" sticker on his butt. The girl was punching the soccer cleat boy in the arm while the butt sticker boy pulled the girl's hair. Rod, perhaps drawing on the blood of former Iranian Prime Minister Mosaddeq that courses through his veins, valiantly organized that rag-tag group and made them responsible for canvassing half of the neighborhood, while he and I were responsible for the other half. Here is a picture of Rod giving directions to our junior colleagues... if you look quickly, you might think you're seeing "Washington Crossing the Delaware"
After Rod and I parted ways with our "crack staff" for the time being, we agreed that the girl looked like she was a foreign policy wonk, while the soccer cleat kid likely had more of an interest in taxes. But we had little time for such idle chatter, as there was serious work to be done.
Rod and I had a list of Democratic voters who had indicated interest in Lamont, so we walked around a quiet, picket fence neighborhood near East Rock knocking on people's doors and giving our spiel. This is literally how it went down:
(knock on the door)
(Elderly Woman opens the door)
Dan: Hello Irene, how ya doin' today?
(Elderly woman is befuddled)
Rod: Have ya voted in today's Democratic primary?
Elderly Woman: Not yet, but I'm voting for Lamont.
Dan: Well that's just super. You have yourself a great day there, Irene.
Here's a picture of Rod patrolling the nabe:
Soon enough, we finished all the houses on our list and reunited with our "crack staff." It was around Noon at this point, and Rod and I were getting the materials ready for the second round of houses. But unbeknownst to us, the soccer cleat boy had already called Mom to pick the "crack staff" up. So Mom rolled up in a Dodge Caravan. This led to the following interaction:
Soccer Cleat Boy (can't look Rod in the eyes): Umm, so, uh, my mom's here to pick us up for lunch.
Rod: OK, so what time are you gonna meet back up with us to do more houses?
Soccer Cleat Boy (still looking down): Well, ya know, I've got soccer practice later, and, uh, Tim has a piano lesson, so uh, we were thinking...
Rod: I mean, you make a commitment to something like this and you should stick to it--
Dan: -- Rod, I think the kids have some OJ to drink, and some Oreos to eat.
Rod: Hey, you know what, you're right. (to soccer cleat boy) Ya gotta do whatcha gotta do.
Soccer Cleat Boy (finally looking up at Rod): But, but we might come back in the late afternoon.
Rod (pensively): Who knows, maybe you will. Mayyybeee.
(soccer cleat Boy, the girl, and Butt sticker boy get in the minivan with Mom)
(Mom waves to me and Rod. We wave back)
After grabbing some food, Rod and I knocked on a few more doors. My route was uneventful. But Rod had a lengthy conversation with an elderly black woman about kids throwing garbage on her lawn, a practice which he agreed was an outrage.
Shortly thereafter, Rod and I raced to Lamont HQ in downtown New Haven. When we arrived in the office, I saw a guy I knew from the Trumbull poker table and talked to him for a bit, and he introduced me to a dirty rodent-looking guy named Chris, who I totally ignored. The Lamont people told us what polling place to go to, and we left. Rod then told me that "Chris" was actually Chris Bowers, of the popular liberal blog mydd.com, and I had committed a major faux pas. Rod agreed, however, that given Chris's rodent-like appearance, it was an understandable mistake.
At the polling place, we took over the duty of handing out Lamont brochures from a frail woman who must have been in her 70s. She had only 5 brochures or so in her hand, so we figured that the 100 brochures HQ gave us would go like hotcakes. But after an hour passed and we still had 90 brochures left, we realized what had probably happened. The old lady had said to a voter, "Hello, have you heard about Ned Lamont?" and when the voter expressed some interest, the old lady put 95 brochures in his hands and then farted.
By 4:00, Rod needed to get to his LSAT class and I needed to get home for the nightly Berger family viewing of Lou Dobbs Tonight. Fortunately, our replacement came to take over for us just as we were preparing to leave. The guy who took over for us was, I kid you not, a clone of Kip from Napoleon Dynamite in every way- from his fashion to his mannerisms to his lisping voice. The guy looked like an overgrown 12 year old with his ill-fitting shorts, a Lamont t-shirt with a couple Lamont stickers on it, and Lamont hat with every Lamont button ever made on it. The buttons were actually a point of contention:
Kip Clone: Hey guysss, ssso HQ sssent me to take over for you.
Dan: Cool, well good luck, it's been a little slow
(Dan is about to walk away)
Rod (to Kip Clone): Dude, uh, I've gotta tell you, "The Kiss" button- not cool.
Kip Clone: "The Kisss"?
Rod (pointing to Kip Clone's hat): The button with the picture of Bush kissing Lieberman on it. The campaign thinks it'll, ya know, scare away moderate voters.
Kip Clone (reluctantly taking the button off his hat): Ohh, okay. Yeah. I guesss that makesss senssse.
Rod: Sorry man. Not my decision. That's just the way the campaign went. Peace.
(Rod does not move)
Below is a pretty bad picture of Kip Clone that I managed to take by pretending to be making a phone call.