Sunrise was just peaking over the top of the industrial district warehouses this morning as Garrett Downen cracked open his first Red Bull. He and 25 other campaigners were standing in the Bus Project parking lot on SE 2nd Ave, dressed in costumes and inking in the last "VOTE" signs with Sharpies. Then someone turned on the jambox, blasted "99 Red Ballons" and the dance party started as the sun rose. They'd spent this year knocking on 60,000 doors, analyzing every new poll, ad and speech of candidates in 11 of Oregon's tightest races. FINALLY election day is here! Time for the fuckin' party already!
Under the carefully orchestrated gaze of a local tv news camera, the workers and volunteers hooted and hollered their way onto the Bus Project's bus and unloaded across town at the corner of MLK and Fremont. That was the perfect venue to continue the dance party. By 7:08 AM, Jefferson Smith had gotten ahold of the megaphone and was shouting at passing drivers. There was honking. Lots of honking.
From there the crowd bussed back to busy Boradway corners and then to caught the morning commuter crowd that had finally woken up and gotten to Burnside by 9AM. Standing on the chilly street, I asked Downen and co-campaigner Henry Kraemer what their terror alert level was for the day. They both shook off my paranoia. "After we hit our 60,000th door, what everyone said is we should be patting each other on the back, we should be feeling good on November 5th because we've done everything we can," said Downen. "I'm naturally superstitious," admitted Kraemer, "but really my greatest fear is that the level of energy we're seeing across the country is dashed for some reason."
They're already thinking post-election, how to keep up this whole youth-voter-everyone-watching-politics momentum under the new president. Progressives in Portland have reason to think tonight's in the bag: Merkley's taken the lead against Smith and Dems have turned some of the states most solid Republican areas -- like Gresham and Clackamas -- into tight races. The election day dance party could easily continue all night.