Friday, July 1
Most states don’t caucus until they get to the host city, but Ohio’s delegates met in Columbus back on June 4; one advantage is that delegates had already taken care of some necessary business before we arrived here, and that allowed the luxury of a 7:30 start for this morning’s caucus!
Delegates arriving at the caucus found a continental breakfast that offered hard-boiled eggs in addition to the usual breads. When they got to their tables they found the first issue of RA Today, the newsletter NEA publishes each day for delegates. If they needed any encouragement to realize that the main event is here, now they have it!
The recommendation to provide an early endorsement for President Obama has occasioned an energetic response: opponents of that endorsement, believing that he has been insufficiently progressive and insufficiently pro-education, have put together a slate of candidates to run for some NEA leadership positions that are up for election; they are using their campaign speeches to attack Obama’s record, and one of them spoke to the Ohio delegates this morning.
This has of course inspired a reaction, and Ohio delegates also heard from NEA Vice President (and candidate for re-election) Lily Eskelsen, who used her campaign speech to stump for support for the early endorsement.
In fact, we heard a lot of campaign speeches this morning: one of my jobs as Ohio caucus parliamentarian is to keep track of time and signal when speakers have used all of theirs, so the campaigners kept me pretty busy during the caucus.
Delegates learned that Vice President Joe Biden will be addressing the RA on Sunday. The last time a sitting President or Vice President addressed the RA was also in Chicago, when VP Al Gore accepted NEA’s endorsement in for President in 2000, so many delegates don’t remember the typical security arrangements required for an appearance by a President or Vice President. And that appearance took place before 9/11/01, so it’s fair to assume that security arrangements are tighter now than they were then. Even though they were pleased to learn that Biden will be speaking, some were surprised to learn that they won’t be able to bring their bags onto the RA floor.
NEOEA delegates met after the state caucus to hear some announcements, and after that they had the day free. Most went to McCormick Place to register, see the exhibits, or both; and many took advantage of their last free day to do some sightseeing. After yesterday’s weather, today’s was calmer, but still quite hot and muggy.
The RA starts tomorrow, and the caucus returns to its normal start time of 7:00. Delegates are fond of an oft-mangled saying that says, “If you’re going to hoot with the owls at night, remember that you’ll have to soar like an eagle in the morning.” We’ll see how many eagles we have for the morning caucus.