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Saturday, January 6, 2007

Photos from DC Trip for Sherrod Brown's Swearing In

This week I rode to Washington, DC on one of the half dozen or so buses arranged by newly elected Senator Sherrod Brown (D) to bring out about 650 Ohioans to witness and celebrate his swearing in.

I rode on one of two buses that started in Bedford, a Cleveland suburb. It was about 7:20 am when I snapped this shot, featuring a cameraman from Cleveland's NBC affiliate, WKYC-TV.

There were only a few passengers on board when I arrived, but as you can see the mood was upbeat, almost giddy. It wasn't like riding a bus with strangers, because we were all Democrats and we were all ready to party.

Reporter Obie Shelton interviews a passenger about the significance of Sherrod's election before the bus departed. This particular passenger is a teacher who has done a lot of election work for Congresswoman Stephanie Tubbs Jones and others.

Our bus driver Duane gave us a salty running commentary on the sights as we entered DC. He pointed out this monument to Sen. Robert A. Taft, an Ohioan and grandfather to the absolute disastor of an Ohio governor who just left office, Bob Taft. Good riddance!

The dinner was in an enormous ballroom at the Hyatt Capitol Square. Shortly before things got started, Sen. Ted Kennedy caused a furor by stopping by to congratulate Sherrod and spouse Connie Schultz, with a hundred people crowding around to get a picture. Once things got started, former Congressman Dennis Eckerd was the master of ceremonies. Sen. Chuck Schumer spoke, as did campaign manager John Ryan. A slide show of photos from the campaign ran continuously on either side of the stage, and at one point there was a video consisting mostly of campaign commercials and text from newspaper coverage. Connie introduced Sherrod. The two of them thanked their staff and their supporters, with Sherrod asking large groups of people to stand and be acknowledged. It was a huge love fest, it was very emotional, and it was wonderful. Connie wept openly at one point on stage, and Sherrod did too when he mentioned his close friend John Kleshinski who died after the election. If there were any dry eyes in the audience they certainly weren't mine.

The picture above was after the speeches, with staff posing behind Connie and Sherrod for photographs. Sherrod promised that he would stay and talk to everyone who wanted to see him personally, and that he'd sign anything. He did just that, for literally hundreds of people. After they shooed us all out of the ballroom at 10:00 pm he was still shaking hands and signing things in the lobby.

After the dinner there were evening bus tours available. I didn't go on one, but Eileen from Akron send me some pictures including this beautiful shot that she calls "Blue Years Eve."

The next morning I legged it across the grounds of the Capitol to the three House office buildings. I was a splendid, clear morning so I took this shot of the west side of the building. I haven't been this close to the building since I was a child so I was very struck by the presence of barricades and fences and guards armed with automatic weapons.

I went to the office of newly elected Rep. Betty Sutton and met various members of her staff, but Betty herself wasn't there. After twenty minutes or so I moved on. However, Eileen stayed, and of course Betty arrived shortly thereafter and Eileen was able to take this photo.

Betty and newly elected Rep. Zack Space, who won Bob Ney's seat, spoke on the House floor that afternoon in support of changes to House ethics rules. I caught Betty's remarks on C-SPAN later and she was terrific. "Trust is fragile" is a theme from her campaign, and she and Space each are appropriate champions of ethics and clean government.

This sign was posted all around the walls of Sutton's office. My immediate interpretation was that she planned to rely on her predecessor heavily for guidance during her first term, but it actually had to do with the fact that she moved into his old office and was getting all his telephone calls, so the staff needed to know the new numbers.

Eileen also sent me this photo of women writing personal notes to the New Girl in Town, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D), on sign boards created by women from NOW.

At noon, Sherrod Brown's contingent all gathered for lunch in the same ballroom at the Hyatt, where we watched his swearing in on TV, projected onto two large screens. I took the remaining pictures by crouching on the floor by the projector. Sherrod was in an alphabetically-determined group of four, along with Akaka, Bingaman, and Byrd. There were ceremonial re-enactments later, with friends and family and picture taking.

Signing the register. Sherrod told reporters later that his hand shook, so the signature isn't especially legible.

Lots of cheering from the audience, along with applause from the other Senators in the chamber when each batch of oaths had been administered.

No cheering from the audience for him. Other kinds of noises were made.

You couldn't help but feel the historical gravity of the occasion, along with the thrill of seeing an absolutely terrific person like Sherrod take office. It was a marvelous thrill and a great celebration.

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2 Comments:

At January 6, 2007 5:05 PM , Jill said...

Awesome. Thank you and happy new year.

 
At January 8, 2007 8:49 AM , Demgal said...

Great report and great photos. It was an historic event, one I'm sure you'll remember for many years.

Everyone had a blast!

 

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