An Evening With Tom Allen
by InigoMontoya, Thu Sep 20, 2007 at 12:20:05 PM EDT
A couple of evenings ago I took the plunge and blew most of this year's donation budget to spend an evening a fundraiser for Democratic Congressman and candidate for the U.S. Senate seat in Maine currently held by Susan Collins, Tom Allen.
The event was sponsored by SOSMajority (Secure Our Senate Majority), www.sosmajority.com. SOSM is working with the DSCC and its mission is "...securing and increasing the Democratic majority in the Senate." Its fundraising is centered around a series of events in Boston, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. Currently designated SOSM candidates include Allen, Jeff Merkley (OR), Mary Landrieu (LA), Mark Warner (VA), and Jeanne Shaheen (NH). By early next May, SOSM expects to be supporting approximately 10 Democratic Senate candidates. While SOSM is looking for various levels of "participation" for the whole slate of candidates ranging from $5,000 to $100,000, individual events are open in exchange for a $500 donation.
More below the fold.
The format of the event was an hour of heavy hors d'oeuvres and drinks to allow for mingling and conversation, including the Congressman, followed by a buffet dinner with seating in the back yard of an elegant home in the Pacific Palisades. Approximately 30 people were in attendance. The host, a lead speaker from SOSM, and Congressman Allen spoke in turn, with the Congressman fielding questions afterwards. Or, as he put it, "I'll be happy to take your questions and listen to your speeches." LOL...he knows the type.
I found Allen compelling as a candidate. He's low-key, intelligent, nuanced, and articulate in a combination that I think will play well with Maine voters (Mainers or Mainiacs, both designations were acknowledged by one of the Maine ex-pats).
If Allen is going to win, it's definitely going to have to be on the model of Sheldon Whitehouse's victory over Lincoln Chaffee in Rhode Island in November 2006. While Allen is well liked in the state, so is Collins and Allen's campaign is going to have to break through to the issues and Collins' support of Bush policies when push has come to shove.
I didn't have a notebook with me and frankly this was the kind of event where I don't think it would have been appropriate. But Allen spoke about a number of issues, including firm deadlines for withdrawal from Iraq. I asked him about Net Neutrality and he gave a thoughtful, comprehensive answer that demonstrated that he not only knew what NN was (and that the Internet wasn't a set of tubes) but indicated some nuanced thinking about pricing vs. bandwidth consumed, concluding with "Yes, I'm in favor of it." A disproportionate amount of questioning at the end wound up getting tangled in campaign financing reform, which was the hobby horse of one of the attendees.
I'm glad I put some chips down on Allen and I recommend that others take a good look at him. He's not one of the leading candidates for a Democratic take-over but I think he's got a shot.
The speaker from SOSM made a good point, I think. Getting to 56-58 Democrats in the Senate does quite a bit of good in that it's easier to pick off 3 Republicans for a vote than it is 10.
(N.B., I'd still like to make the Senate Lieberman-proof.)