By Carla Branch
With the serious business of campaigning behind them but looming on the not too distant November horizon, the Alexandria Democratic Committee used the annual Jefferson-Jackson Dinner to celebrate being Democrats.
“I always enjoy this dinner because it gives us an opportunity to let our hair down and celebrate our Party,” said Alexandria Mayor Bill Euille. “We have all worked very hard this year and have another campaign ahead of us.”
Euille introduced the Party’s gubernatorial candidate, Virginia State Senator Creigh Deeds, who defeated Alexandrian Brian Moran and Terry McAuliffe in the June 9 primary. “Brian and I were friends long before the campaign and will be friends moving forward,” Deeds said. “All of you here tonight are important in making certain that we continue the programs of the Warner and Kaine administrations of responsible government, providing insurance to all of Virginia’s children and creating jobs for Virginians.”
Each year the ADC gives the Grassroots Award to a “person who has helped the Party grow by doing whatever needs to be done”. The 2009 winner is Tom Raycroft, who was out of the room when his name was announced.
“If we call Tom at 5:30 a.m. and tell him that we need to get 17,000 pieces of printed material to Merrifield, he gets it done. Anything we ask him to do, he does,” said ADC Chair Susan Kellum.
When Raycroft returned, he accepted the award and spoke about why he was a Democrat. “During the Depression, the country turned to Franklin Roosevelt,” Raycroft. “I am proud to be a Democrat in that tradition and thank you for this award.”
Virginia Congressman Jim Moran introduced the evening’s keynote speaker White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs. “Let me give you ten reasons why we invited our speaker here tonight,” Moran said. “First, he was the goalie for the North Carolina State soccer team.”
Moran, who lost his notes, recited ten reasons, some more important to the crowd than others. “The tie that President Obama was wearing during that amazing speech at the Democratic National Convention, that wasn’t his. Robert said that “˜it was used for a higher purpose.’
“He’s Bud and Connie Hart’s son-in-law. He lives in Alexandria and, finally, he’s Mary Katherine Hart Gibbs’ husband,” Moran said.
To laughter and applause, Gibbs came to the podium. “I’m really pleased to be here tonight, particularly because I’m standing at a podium and I am not going to answer any questions,” he said. “I bring you greetings from President Obama and am going to give you a bit of a progress report.”
He spoke about the energy bill that was just passed and about healthcare. “By the end of the year, President Obama will sign a healthcare bill. It won’t be perfect, but it will be very good.
“We must be careful not to let “˜perfect’ become the enemy of “˜very good.’ We have been talking about healthcare reform and energy independence for 40 years and we are finally moving in the right direction,” Gibbs said.