Out in really rural Florida, two hours from anywhere, over 65 people attended. Vetwife offered her house and it was perfect... intimate, but big enough to hold a lot of people. I wish I could have stayed the whole time but I had to leave early because my wife was being treated in the hospital. I did get a chance to meet like-minded bloggers and several kossacks: oldhippiechick, byardl, mikejay611, gordon20024, whatgodmade, pajoly, vetwife, charlie grapski and others I don't recall by name. (Sorry, I do faces better than names.)
We had several congressional, senate, and house contenders, Pastor Simmons (who has done more to counter-act Rick Scott's assault on voting than anyone), several activists, the president of Angels of Mercy, and several others I am probably leaving out (not intentionally). There was also a TON of food, entertainment, and people who drove from all over Florida. (I think Mike took the prize from Homestead.) Congresswoman Lois Frankel contacted me and requested I read this letter for the gathering.
Crist's campaign called at 1pm to say they couldn't swing by afterall. I never offered the Skype option because we were told he was coming up just the day before. Here's the thing: Koller's people informed him of the turnout--not just the blog peeps and candidates but the disabled Veterans and Veteran's advocates. On Sunday, Amanda received several calls from the Citrus Co. Dem party and Crist's people who told us there was a miscommunication with the "wrong" scheduler.
Long story short, Vetwife was given Charlie Crist's direct line and a promise to make the next one, if we do one. (Although I'm all for that, Amanda and I can't do another one.)
The rain came just a little bit to cool things off before the speakers arrived. After that, several people jumped in the pool. There were people front yard, side yard, back yard, in different rooms. No group shot taken this year, and I wish I had taken more pictures.
I'll give a shout out to several peeps below, but first, a few pics that were taken:
So many of these guys had interesting stories such good information that decided it better to do a separate post for each. I'll do a very quick summary for each:
My first write-up is on Congressional Candidate Dave Koller, District 11. His opponent, Tea Party Rich Nugent, is outraged someone dares to run against him.
Dave Koller met everyone in person and stayed until every question was answered. With redistricting, he has a shot.
Senate Candidate Judithanne McLaunchlan, District 22, has worked for every branch of government. She is not only an educator, she was ranked one of the top 25 professors in Florida. She is intimately aware of the damage the GOP has done in gutting public education. Must-see video.
If you want to help, here's her website: http://votejudithanne.com/
Congressional candidate Alan Cohn, District 15, is an Emmy-award winning investigative journalist who uncovered the biggest case of political corruption in the last decade. He is currently statistically tied with his opponent, GOPer Dennis Ross. He is infinitely more qualified than his opponent, who even Republicans barely give a majority of support. Help put him over the top: http://www.alancohnforcongress
House candidate for District 51, Joe Murray, was a paratrooper in the Army and was soon promoted to the Chief Computer Engineer for the entire US Army. He was one of the youngest colonels to retire. He is now a successful small business owner, when he isn't coaching Little League or out fighting the good fight. Give him your support at http://www.joemurrayflhouse.org/.
David Kearns, a journalist, author of "Rick Scott: Enemy of the State" and current Congressional candidate (District 53), is known well in Rick Scott's camp. His book highlights the elections shenanigans of Rick Scott, and what happened when he confronted Scott. His opponent, John Tobias, is a homophobe who mocks gays and makes "inappropriate comments about women." He only won by 2% points. Support him at http://www.davidakearns.com/
Kara Kempley is president of Florida's Angels of Mercy which advocates medical mercy for those suffering because of Florida's antiquated cannabis law. Vote YES on Amendment 2!! She won a hard fought victory for the Moseley family. Their child suffers from intractable epilepsy and she forced the issue on reluctant lawmakers. Come to her event Sept 20Sorry if I left people out. Let me know and I will update.
The political sculptor, Fernando Sosa, has been featured on Chris Matthews, Seth Meyers, Wired magazine, and countless radio and TV shows both national and international for his hard-hitting anti-GOP 3D print pieces. In fact, he couldn't attend because he was flying back from Ireland that Saturday. He's very talented, and a close friend. Check him out.
Beach Peanuts helped drive up support, but she couldn't attend due to a move. Visit her blog, as she is awesome.
Finally, Jim Bryan, District 1, could not attend that day but has asked Vetwife and me for his help. He is a Vietnam Veteran and faces an uphill battle, but is making such an impact that Karl Rove has opened an office in his district. His facebook is here.
We had no money, no offers from help from party officials, and every one of the organizers were going through a lot of medical and financial pain. But we pulled it off, because, as Vetwife eloquently said, that's what activism looks like in our stupid state.