I had an informal meeting with John DeStefano and members of his campaign as they passed through Enfield today. (Before you ask, I'm still not supporting anybody.) Mayor DeStefano was speaking at the Democratic Town Committee, to which the campaign was kind enough to invite me. I had a nice chat with the mayor, Aldon Hynes and Shonu Gandhi beforehand at the local Starbucks. I'll share with you those of my observations and recollections worth sharing:
John DeStefano is an interesting and engaging man who seems to have a great deal of knowledge about many, many subjects. We talked about issues ranging from health policies to urban renewal to massive social trends. Amazingly, he seemed equally passionate about all of these things. He is energetic, charismatic and, if you haven't had your coffee yet, a little overwhelming, too. I found it interesting that he was apparently adapting his upcoming stump speech in his head as we spoke.
We were slightly late for the meeting of Enfield Democrats, which was sparsely attended (this is vacation month). I listened to the mayor's stump speech with interest. It was a detail-oriented speech, longer on policy and strategy than base-exciting rhetoric or anecdotes. One of the most thought-provoking points he brought up was that Rell has been essentially running a campaign against Rowland since taking office. I hadn't looked at the situation quite that way before, but that does indeed seem to be at least part of what she's doing, and she has been very successful at it. DeStefano is looking for ways to re-frame the upcoming campaign. Democrats in the General Assembly have already tried and failed miserably: we'll see if he is more successful.
The crowd, such as it was, reacted positively to the speech. A lot of people left with DeStefano DVDs. It matters that none of the other candidates have bothered to come this far north. We really do feel ignored from time to time.
I overheard someone (not a campaign staffer) say about Susan Bysiewicz: "I like her--just not for governor." Huh.
It's apparent that the focus of his campaign will be on high expectations for the future. It has the potential to be quite convincing, if framed in the right way. Bill Curry didn't have much luck with it.
I had an excellent talk with Shonu and Aldon after the meeting about blogs and campaigns. I even got to speak with some of the town Democrats. In sum, I had a blast, and I'd like to thank the mayor, Aldon and Shonu for an enlightening and fascinating evening.