THE SUMMIT COUNTY DEMOCRATS met under one roof this week for the party's annual
FDR dinner (Franklin Delano Roosevelt for anyone with a short memory). The 400 or so who arrived at Todaro's party center early enough for a head start on wine and buffet nibbles assembled the party's first team - County Executive Russ Pry, Akron Mayor Don Plusquellic, chairman Wayne Jones et al - to begin an evening of Democratic pep talks featuring Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, who some folks are already casting as a fellow of great potential. Say, 2016?
O'Malley, the former Baltimore mayor, and Plusquellic developed a lasting friendship when the latter served as the president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors. As Plusquellic told the audience of his friend: "He's qualified to be the president". Say, 2016.
Well, that's a long way off and the local event served as the platform for O'Malley to drive home the need to reelect President Obama in November, the governor's current mission as he travels about to engage new voters and rev up the old ones.
All in all, it was an informal evening that once again contrasted how Democrats and Republicans go about their business at celebratory occasions in this county. The Democrats provided a venue for collegial banter, some decent food, a lively speaker, and awards to its workers, all of which took no more than a few hours. Having attended a score of Republican dinners before new rules barring certain media were exercised, I can tell you there is a world of difference here.
Republican dinners are pure pageantry: A live band, drumrolls, an off-stage voice calling out the names of each Republican grandee who proceeds to his or her seat on the dais with applause, and an evening filled out - in recent years, at least -with prominent ultra-conservative speakers symbolic of the party's servile acquiescence to the far right.
There also is the customary bellowing harangue by the County Party chairman, Alex Arshinkoff, with his laundry list of grievances against the Beacon Journal, a former editor, a local law firm and whatever else needs to be aired out for the dinner guests. Heavens!
Trust me: Whatever your politics, the Democratic events hereabouts are always more fun, even without the drumrolls.