|By G. Michael Dobbs, Managing Editor|
When I looked around the banquet room at the Red Rose restaurant in Springfield last week, I was struck by not who was in the room to show their support for Sen. John Kerry, but who wasn't and the fact that there was a longer line at the buffet than there was for people to pay their respects to the senator.
Now generally a long-time incumbent senator or representative has the power to generate a long line of local pols and supporters to kiss his ring and the room at the Red Rose was pretty full. Many of the folks, though, that I had expected to see I didn't. The usual suspects at such an event include city councilors, state reps and senators and mayors as well as local party officials and activists.
And while Chicopee Mayor Michael Bissonnette was there, as well as Springfield City Council President Bud Williams and State Rep. Sean Curran were there, I didn't spot any other mayors. If this had been a function for Sen. Ted Kennedy cancer or not the room at the Red Rose would have had a line out of the door and down the sidewalk.
Of course, Kennedy is living history, one might say, but Kerry, who was the Democratic presidential candidate, represents a bit of history himself. One would think that his leading the Democrats nationally in the last election would have given him more of a cachet.
Now, I only stayed for the first hour, as there is just so much fun I can endure, folks and no, I didn't avail myself of the food as that was for the paying customers. So it's quite possible other elected officials turned up after I left.
The question any political junkie might pose from observation of the gathering was whether or not Kerry's support had slipped, especially in light of the pretty rigorous campaign run by Attorney Ed O'Reilly who has mounted a primary challenge.
As I write this column, the Massachusetts Democratic Convention is looming and for O'Reilly it will be his acid test. If he is able to secure enough support, Massachusetts' voters will have a fairly unique opportunity of having an incumbent senator reaffirm his base supporters.
Political wags have long said if you see Kerry in Western Massachusetts, you know it's an election year, so I expect that we'll get more exposure to Kerry in the coming months. If O'Reilly proves successful, I'm hoping we'll have a debate out here in the hinterlands.
I get a lot of silly stuff in my e-mail bag porn, stuff in Russian, announcements I've won lotteries that I never entered besides the mail I actually want.
Publicists constantly try to get our attention and here's one example:
"California same-sex marriages could generate $1 billion the first year. The Wedding Report Inc. estimates that California same-sex marriages could reach 33,800 and generate $1 billion in revenue the first year. Tucson, Ariz.
"'There are an estimated 112,700 same-sex couples in California today. We believe that in the first year alone approximately 25 - 35 percent will get married, roughly 33,800 couples. The California 2008 estimated wedding cost is $29,600, put those together and you get $1 billion the first year,' said Shane McMurray, CEO Founder of The Wedding Report Inc.
"The Wedding Report Inc. estimates that over three years, 49,400 same-sex couples will marry in California generating $1.5 billion in revenue...The Wedding Report Inc. is a research company located in Tucson, Ariz. They track and forecast number of weddings, spending and consumer trends for the wedding industry."
Excuse me, but have we seen a boom in gay wedding expenditures here? Granted, California is a bigger state, but the experience here in the Bay State might point to a far more modest increase.
Here's one, though, that the staff thought was more interesting: "The gourmet bib a patented, oversized napkin/bib called Napkleen is the ultimate 'bib' for seniors, people who spill on shirts and ties, toddlers, etc. "The disposable, waterproof product is made of two-ply tissue and adheres to your shirt. Available in sizes for adults (13" x 6"), children (10" x 10") and infants/toddlers (8" x 10"), Napkleen comes in six colors (made with food safe ink).
"It was created by Mike Chasan, who spilled coffee on his shirt on his way to an important meeting. Are you interested in receiving more information about the Napkleen or testing one out?"
Journalists at least this middle-aged one tend to eat and drink while writing or talking on the phone. Spillage is inevitable and a napkin that you can glue onto your shirt goes right along with these stain-resistant pants I've got on.
I've requested a case for us to test and we'll share the results.
This column represents the opinions of its author. Send your comments online to Remiderpublications.com or to 280 N. Main St., East Longmeadow, Mass. 01028.
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