John Daniello gave the introduction, noting the Union hall we are in has a roster of out of work members – and that jobs would be the key agenda of the night.
Gov. Jack Markell gave the key note, with an early acknowledgement of the Plumbers and Pipe Fitters Union. He then reviewed the Democratic Party’s electoral successes, and how many office we control now vs. in decades past (noting that John Burris was in attendance). This was followed by a comparison of politics and policies in Delaware vs. other states (and DC) – noting our bond rating, atmosphere of cooperation, teacher hiring, civil unions, etc. He generated significant applause inviting those who want to fight for something (jobs, equality, etc) rather than against someone to come to Delaware. He thanked his family and the attendees for all the work they do.
There are about 10-15 Occupy Delaware protesters outside on the other side of the driveway by the parking lot. They are holding signs and were having a polite conversation with some attendees who came out to note support for shared goals.
Pete Schwartzkopf honored Mitch Crane for the Sussex Democrats, although it was brief (as KWS was in attendance). Matt Denn praised Nancy Cook, the Kent honoree, at length, crediting her in part for Delaware’s bond rating. He also had a zinger about Republican being unable to find someone to run against Markell for “longer than Kim Kardashian’s marriage”. KWS was up next for Wilmington, honoring activist and committeewoman Judith Giofre (and generating only muted applause).
Chris Coons is up, and he’s on fire. Lots of zingers about how poisonous the political atmosphere is in DC (“any day in Delaware is better than a day in DC”) and his freshman classmates in the senate (He said he told his wife “Honey, in six other states they elected Christine O’Donnell”). He praised unions, the protesters (“they should be mad!”), and Delaware Democrats in general. He talked about compromise, but also emphasized that when Republican refuse to give up an inch (noting the Lucy-and-the-football quality to GOP negotiations), we have to fight for our principles; and that the president was “finally” learning that. He noted that he’d better get to the point (because the Eagles game is starting soon), and effusively praised the hard work and selfless attitude of Committeewoman Jayne Fernsler on behalf of New Castle County. Coons is a fantastic speaker and the highlight of the night.
Bob Gilligan delivered a moving eulogy for Rep. Hazel Plant, presenting an award which her daughter Mary accepted. Likewise, John Carney presented a posthumous award to Wayne John Pollari, former chairman of the Brandywine Hundred Democratic Party, who passed away last month. Carney’s speech was a bit muted but very heartfelt. Polari’s daughter Andrea accepted the award, emphasizing the Democratic values she was raised with.
Tom Carper presented the final award to Kristin Barnekov-Short, wife of Rep. Byron Short, for her campaign work on behalf of Coons, Carney, and numerous local Democrats. His introduction was folksy and mentioned the Eagles. After the award, Carper closed with a more somber note about how important the upcoming election is. He said if Republicans controlled all 3 branches of gov’t for the past 3 years, America would no longer have an auto industry, and noted other accomplishments of the current administration.
Photos of the protesters: