Friday, November 04, 2005

Days Four - Seven: sometimes I actually feel like I have a real job

Something told me at the beginning of this bus tour that I would have time
to be writing blogs daily as a useless and not read-worthy reference guide
to the Forrester for Governor campaign here in New Jersey... I was
absolutely correct in my original perception of how much of my time this
tour would be eating up. I'm busy, but I've certainly been busier. I've just
been lazy with this blog bit and admittedly, realizing how un-informative
and lack lustre it actually is.

Regardless, it's been an interesting past couple of days. of course, it
doesn't take much (just a small snippet or occurance here and there) for me
to turn into an entire blog entry. Berkeley's choice of necktie, an
overheard comment, an eight year-old with a better understanding of the new
jersey political process than either one of the candidates... you know,
little things. So, I might tell a few stories here from the campaign trail,
just to give you a little insight into how things work. I'll keep all the
secrets to myself though, seeing as how these types of things (written on
the internet) seem to come back and bite me in the ass all the time.

Doug received a letter from an eight year-old boy a few weeks ago. It was a
school project that had obligated him and his classmates to write and send a
letter to a hero of theirs. This boy, Gavin, chose Doug Forrester as his
hero and wrote Doug a letter highlighting his status as a "staunch"
republican and letting Doug know that he was "fed up with corruption in New
Jersey" and "very concerned about the transportation trust fund".
Admittedly, we thought that his parents had written the letter. Doug gave
young Gavin a call to chat with him and thank him for the kind letter only
to realize that it was VERY probable that young Gavin had indeed written
this letter copmletely on his own volition and using his own words.
This child became gold.
We decided to meet up with Gavin at the Toms River Halloween parade. His
parents drove him to meet the bus and were ecstatic that their son would get
the opportunity to sit at Doug Forrester's feet and suck up every ounce of
wisdom he could by way of osmosis.
His parents seemed relatively normal.
Gavin dismounted the family mini-van wearing navy trousers, a white oxford
shirt, and carrying a 2005 copy of the New Jersey legislative manual. He
was... interesting, but kind of cute for an eight year old political hack.
He exchanged words with Doug and Andrea for about an hour on the bus, sharing cokes and smiles. He shared that he is an only child and "very happy about it, because [he] gets all the attention". He also shared that he has no pets except a dead dog - but don't feel badly about the dog dying... he never really liked her anyway.
Gavin brought along his Halloween costume: a Garden State Parkway toll booth, featuring everything applicable including a basket to throw toll tokens, change, or in this case, candy into. I guess just keep Bret Schundler away from him.
I already briefed on the rest of the parade - no need for further delineation.
Tuesday I stayed off the bus the entire day, which was great because it afforded me the opportunity to do work for my old candidate, whom I still don't work for anymore, but manage to find work to do anyhow. My travels for Bret took me down to Trenton where I was dropping off the (hopefully, once again) final legal/financial report that I will ever have to drop off at the Election Law Enforcement Commission. I was waiting for my public financing representative to come down and chat with me when an old "friend" walked through the door.

Receptionist: "Are you here to drop off a Gubernatorial submission?"
Guest: "Yes, that's right"
Receptionist: "And which campaign are you from?"
Guest: "Bob Schroeder for Governor."
Receptionist: "And you are...?"
Guest: (ahem) "Bob Schroeder."
I felt really embarassed for him. Bob was one of the seven republican gubernatorial candidates this past spring in the new jersey primary election for governor. He was one of the less... popular candidates. A committeeman from Washington Twp. (Bergen), he had absolutely no name recognition state-wide and little to no leverage even locally (he wasn't even the mayor, just a councilman). A millionaire (seemingly a trend this year), he spent an absolute TON of money unnecessarily and only kind of made himself look a little silly. Regardless, I felt embarassed for him that absolutely no one knew who he was and I imagined that he was dropping off his own submission because he had absolutely no one else that would be taking care of things for him.
He stepped into the public filing room that I was waiting in and nodded his head toward me.
"Hi, I'm Bob Schroeder"
I nodded my head and smiled, "Yes, I know. I think we've met a couple of times, but you know... always amongst the masses."
He smiled back and glanced quickly at the files and papers I had set down on the table.
"Which campaign are you with?"
"Bret Schundler's campaign... last submission."
"Yeah... well, my accountant is in Ocean County and I was over there and figured, hey, while I'm down here, I'll just bring the submission over myself, you know?"
Yeah. I know, Bob.
Tuesday night was anything but anti-climactic as I found myself back in Newark at the Renaissance Church on 7th Avenue and Roseland St. We pulled up to the corner to find 250 African American Newark residents holding signs and screaming at the height of their ability. It was causing quite the ruckus and the media was eating it up. CBS, ABC, Fox, and a few others came out for the show. It was quite the spectacular show and I got to flex my "secret service" muscle as I navigated Andrea through the congestion, guarding her back with my outstretched arm, completely unconvinced that it would derail any sort of serious threat to her person.
The rally was just short of amazing. Doug was dead on target. It was great. The crowd was so incredibly electric... it generated this sort of high that wafted through crowd, touching most everyone and leaving us all in a buzz that would have been really hard to deflate.
For a moment, I felt like I might actually (finally) be working on a winning campaign.
Last night Andrea and I traveled into New York City for a fundraiser that some friendly neighbors (new yorkers) were hosting for the Forrester for Governor campaign. This was probably the highlight of the campaign as our driver (a former Port Authority police officer) arranged for us to have a police escort through the Lincoln Tunnel so that we wouldn't sit in traffic for two hours. Simple, right? I imagined that a police officer would clear the path in front of us, lights flashing, siren sounding, and we would wait patiently as people angrily moved aside. I never imagined what actually did happen. I never imagined that this would be a multi-officer operation, shutting down an entire lane of the Lincoln Tunnel and funneling all traffic to the right hand lane as we cruised past in the left lane, officer in front and in back. Andrea laughed uncontrollably in nervousness, as she ducked and hid her face from the view of the million and one commuters to our right, sitting in absolutely stillness as we drove on, effortlessly. It was pretty amazing and we were only happy that there were no campaign bumper stickers on the car. We ended the evening with dinner in mid-town and returned home in relatively high spirits.
I'm on the bus as I type and am heading to Vineland (Cumberland County) where we will attend a rally for the candidate. We just left Gloucester where Doug and Andrea walked the cows home from pasture with Farmer Smith and his wife. It was precious.
There has been some anxiety felt on the bus today and was felt strongest as we waited, parked in cow country, all of us tuned into the radio listening to new accusations. I can't imagine ever being a candidate's wife. I really feel sympathy for Andrea right now.
Tonight ends late and tomorrow is a long day. Only 4 days left to go...

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