27 Thoughts I Had During the Polk County Democrats Fall Banquet and Auction

Posted: October 14, 2015 | By: Iowa Caucus Project Staff Tagged: Blog
Martin O'Malley

Martin O’Malley speaks at the Polk County Democrats Fall Banquet and Auction on Oct. 9. Photo by Sarah LeBlanc.

Last Friday, I attended the Polk County Democrats Fall Banquet and Auction at the Iowa State Fair Grounds. I’ve seen Martin O’Malley several times, but I was especially interested to see grassroots politics at work with the number of state congressional candidates and candidates for U.S. Senate walking around the room. The opportunity to get up-close and personal with political candidates from all walks of life is one of the major reasons I came to Drake, and it was, for lack of a better word, cool to hear them plug themselves and try to tell stories of their experiences in my hometown in order to seem more relatable and electable in my eyes. I had a lot going through my mind at the time, so I figured it’s only fair to leave out the more mundane particulars and explain what I was thinking, as unintelligible as that might be.

  1. Free. Food.
  2. Wow, this is a lot of important people.
  3. There are just a few professionals with laminated press passes — I’ve spotted four cameras on tripods set up so far.
  4. O’Malley’s campaign signs kind of look like someone put painters tape around the edges and forgot a corner.
  5. Casually shaking hands with potential future U.S. and state senators and congressional candidates while O’Malley wanders the room. No big deal.
  6. Introduction of candidates and their supporters who will be speaking. Do all of them have raffle items up for sale? For some reason I thought that part would be more subtle.
  7. Let the stump speeches begin.
  8. First up, U.S. Senate candidate Tom Fiegan. Telling it like it is: You can tell if a politician is a “real Democrat” by where they get their money and the fact that they look for solutions instead of just talking about the problem. Well, we know the first part by the buckets being passed around the room.
  9. 3rd District congressional candidate Desmund Adams steps up to bat, forcing us all to focus with his mention of hard-hitting issues. Like…salad?
  10. “You don’t want your cucumber to be a tomato.” No, I certainly do not. Is Adams calling me a salad?
  11. Oh, diversity is like salad. Well, that’s an unexpectedly clever metaphor.
  12. “The reality is everyone doesn’t have the resources to speak like you can speak or I can speak.” Adams is for one inclusive Iowa, but I’d like to hear about those solutions Fiegan was mentioning.
  13. How is the issue of diversity, and Iowa’s lack thereof, going to be approached in a population that’s more than 90 percent white?
  14. I, too, would pay over $200 for a home-cooked meal, Mr. Adams.
  15. Another 3rd District candidate for congress, Jim Mowrer, centers his speech on his military experience as an Iraq veteran and emphasizes the importance of being more efficient and effective with tax dollars while fixing a broken Congress. I find him engaging.
  16. Hey, it’s Martin O’Malley! Again.
  17. I appreciate O’Malley’s references to his success as governor, but I would like to know how this would translate to the Oval Office.
  18. Donald Trump is “that carnival barker.” Name-calling will get you everywhere, O’Malley.
  19. By singling out Trump all the time, don’t candidates realize that they’re giving him the attention that has made him so popular and recognizable as a realistic candidate by the public? Plus, Trump is pretty much the king of insults in this political race. There’s even a list of all the insults he’s called his peers.
  20. I’ve now seen O’Malley three times (I have seen other candidates too, though, I promise) and there are several of his key claims that have been repeated every time:
    • Pass Glass-Steagall.
    • “I kinda like the tough fights.”
    • The need for comprehensive gun reform.
    • Getting “11 million of our neighbors out of the shadow economy.”
  21. Characteristically, O’Malley leads the crowd in a rousing version of “Hard Times Come Again No More.”
  22. O’Malley really has musical talent. If this whole presidential thing doesn’t work out, he definitely has a future in music or playing in a band.
  23. Wait a second…
  24. It’s a shame we don’t all know this song; that would make this whole “sing-along” bit a lot less awkward.
  25. And the crowd goes wild! Bye, O’Malley. Until next time.
  26. If I didn’t already “Feel the Bern,” Marianne Williamson’s passion is kind of forcing me into it.
  27. Are those Hillary signs free?


IMG_1215LeBlanc is a junior political science and journalism major from Madison, Wisconsin. She’s visited three countries in the last six months and enjoys copious amounts of Netflix, chocolate and bad puns. Follow her on Twitter.