What a bloody circus. Nick's Coney Island was packed to the gills when I got there at 6:15—people were flooding out the door, Victoria Taft was on air from the table in the window, and recall spokesman Jasun Wurster was wearing a tie. Repeat, Jasun Wurster was wearing a tie. Tucked in. To some chinos. Mercury fashion editor Marjorie Skinner's tips may have made an impact, after all.
The inevitable question, of course, is: How much more credible is the recall campaign now, than it was before the event? The answer, I think, is moderately more credible, but only a little. More after the jump.
The majority of the crowd at Nick's were middle-aged and blue collar. Not the same folks one saw during the election campaign, that's for sure. A lot of them were overheard discussing Jack Bogdanski's blog.
Boston were playing Orlando on the TVs, and pictures of Babe Ruth and Larry Bird adorned the walls. There were chili dogs and mac and cheese—full disclosure, I ate three chili dogs and half a plate of mac and cheese. They were pretty good. The restrooms had "jocks" and "cheerleaders" written on the doors. I'm a cheerleader, right?
"How have we gotten to where we are now?" asked Wurster. "Political apathy."
He talked about Sam Adams' "political thuggery." But the biggest cheer of the evening came when someone asked, "Are we going to start a recall for Randy Leonard as well?"
Diane Manser, a retired Portlander, was wearing a t-shirt with Sam Adams' face on it, and the words "STOP THE EMBARRASSMENT" written on it.
"I've lived here 50 years," she said. "And I've never been politically active until now, but I went out and got this t-shirt printed. I have friends in Chicago who called me and said they can go on Youtube and see Portland on there as a joke. I don't think Portland is a joke."
Nick's owner Tyler Rogoway announced $2.50 beers after Wurster was done. "I'm totally sick of lying politicians," he said. "It's not that they did something they regret, it's that they can't come out and be honest. Instead it was a big cover up. This isn't about left, right, up, or down, it's about getting some honesty back into politics."
Bill Fuller, a retired media salesman, was outside having a beer after the event. "I came down to see what was going on," he said. "I guess I'd support a recall because I'm concerned about the number of what appear to be lies."
"Contrary to popular belief, this isn't about a right wing campaign to get rid of a gay mayor," said Dale Clark, a computer technician. "It's about a man who used the public purse for hush money. It was corrupt and inappropriate, and it speaks volumes."
But there were signs of anti-gay sentiment.
"This isn't about liberal or conservative," said Jeff Taylor, who was walking around with a campaign placard reading 'Jeff Taylor, The Family Mayor.' "It's not okay to kiss a 17-year-old boy. That's what this is about. End of story."
Others tried to downplay the symbolic significance of the right-wing talk show host and the anti-kissing statements.
"It's not half Christian homophobes and then normal people here," said Jeremy Ginsberg, a writer. "Although he's already got his Nazi campaign running," gesturing to Taylor. "I hope the press don't seize on this and run with it."
"I'm just curious as to whether we're going to give the same treatment to Adams as we gave to [former police chief] Derrick Foxworth," said Les Shannon, a campaign volunteer. "It seems like Adams is a privileged son of the city. It's favoritism."
Wurster was pleased with the turnout. "I wish we'd had a bigger venue," he said.
There was also a bit of tension out in the street. "Everybody lies, constantly," said a passerby.
"But not as much as he did," responded another man, attending the recall, as a security guard looked on.
"I came for amusement as an anarchist," said the Reverend Jordan Feathers, who runs a non-profit pagan collective, and was smoking outside. "This was funny. I dig it."