by Sarah Lane with Julie Hall, October 30, 2012, 4:50 p.m.
Derek Kilmer, the Democrat who is running for Congress in the 6th District, which now includes Bainbridge Island, told Inside Bainbridge there are “eight days, two hours, and five minutes” left until the election but jokingly added, “Who’s counting?” He is. The man eager to replace retiring Norm Dicks in what is redistricted territory got a little help from some big-time friends last night at the Filipino-American Hall.
The event, hosted by Phil and Anita Rockefeller, drew about 15o people, who were treated to a three-tiered crispy parcel and springroll extravaganza provided by Sawatdy Thai Restaurant as they waited for the speechifying to begin. When Senator Maria Cantwell, running for reelection, arrived, she told IB that Kilmer is a friend and a “great guy.” She said he had asked her if she’d come to show support and she had immediately said yes.
When there were enough people present that you couldn’t walk anywhere without knocking someone’s chicken satay out of their hands, former Washington State Senator and now Northwest Power and Conservation Councilmember Phil Rockefeller took the stage. He led the crowd in a birthday song for Sherry Appleton, our district’s Washington State House rep.
He listed all the Democratic politerati present, including nonpartisan judicial candidates Sheryl McCloud and Karen Klein, and introduced Trudi Inslee, the wife of the Democratic candidate for governor Jay Inslee, as the “likely next first lady of Washington.”
Inslee climbed to the stage and said, “Jay would love to be here tonight, but he’s at a fundraiser.” She added, “We aren’t taking anything for granted. Every single vote counts.”
Then Rockefeller introduced Kilmer, describing him as “energetic” and “focused,” as having a “wicked wit,” and as exhibiting “incredible industry.” He said, “No one has your back better than Derek.”
Kilmer took the mike and thanked the other Democratic candidates present. He described Appleton as the “conscience of the State House” and mentioned how hard she has fought for people with developmental disabilities. He commended Drew Hansen, candidate for State Representative, on an “impassioned speech” he gave on marriage equality. He called State Senator Christine Rolfes, running for reelection, our “ferry godmother,” praising her work on behalf of ferry commuters and education issues. And he gave shouts out to County Commissioners Charlotte Garrido and Rob Gelder in their campaigns (neither of whom was present).
Then Kilmer said he had put 31,000 miles on his car during the campaign. He described three stops en route that had particularly moved him. The first was in Grays Harbor where he spoke with a “mom and small business owner” who told him, “My biggest fear is that our top export will be our kids.” Kilmer said he’s heard that sentiment echoed “everywhere.” He said what is needed is to “grow the economy from the middle out,” to invest in American skilled workers, and to get people back to work.
In Southworth, he spoke with a woman who has leukemia. Kilmer choked up as he described the woman’ tears in her eyes as she explained that she had gone through four treatments for her disease, at $50,000 each. She told him, “I’m just so scared.” Kilmer said how turning Medicare into a voucher system would “fracture the guarantee we owe our seniors.” He said that Medicare and Social Security are what have sustained his own grandmother who is 102 years old. Then he said, “This is the real deal. I’m going to remember that woman every day.”
In Belfair, he met an older man who told him that his wife had made him come to meet him. He was an immigrant who moved to the United States after World War II. He told Kilmer, “I’ve become so disheartened I’ve thought for the first time of not voting.” Kilmer counseled him to vote, saying that “If everyone sits on the sidelines, we can’t fix it.”
Kilmer concluded by saying that he is the only candidate who doesn’t believe corporations are people or that money is speech, drawing a rousing round of applause and cheers. He admonished people to keep working to get out the vote: “Move forward or backward? Trickle down or middle out? We’ve got eight days,” he said.
Senator Cantwell took the stage next, saying, “Wouldn’t it be so cool if the summer home of the next governor were on Bainbridge Island?” referring to Jay Inslee, who lives on Bainbridge. She continued, “Jay Inslee does what’s right for the state. He will make education the number-one priority.”
Then she turned her attention to Kilmer. She described what she perceives as a growing trend in Washington D.C.: “It’s not about a vision of the future but about fear,” and she said, “Boy, do we have a solution in Derek Kilmer.” She foresaw an upcoming political battle: “This is hand-to-hand combat. This man is capable of winning. That’s why we need to send him to D.C.”
Cantwell listed three issues of great concern to our state: the acidification of our waters, the need to get our troops out of Afghanistan, and the urgency of providing help to our returning vets, including PTSD treatment and jobs training.
She ended her comments by paraphrasing Mark Udall, a senator from Colorado, who described our economy when Obama took it as being in a Mach-5 nosedive. Cantwell pantomimed Obama grabbing the steering and pulling the economy out of the dive until it was able to fly level. Now, she warned, “The other side wants to drive it into the ground.”
Photos by Julie Hall.