Biden and Cantwell rally local Democrats
Candidates at all levels express support for LGBT issues
by James Whitely -
SGN Staff Writer
Hundreds of Democrats gathered July 9 in the Grand Ballroom of downtown Seattle's Westin Hotel for a campaign rally and fundraiser for Sen. Maria Cantwell's (D-Wash.) re-election. The event featured Vice President Joe Biden as keynote speaker.
Supporters of all ages were motivated and excited as candidates and other officials gave speeches about Cantwell and issues central to the party. LGBT issues were mentioned by every speaker.
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jay Inslee was on hand, saying of Cantwell, 'I have seen a leader of vision and strength.'
Cantwell and Vice President Biden took the stage to a long, standing ovation, as attendees cheered and raised the senator's campaign signs high above their heads.
'When Jay Inslee is your governor, he will always have your back,' said Cantwell.
Inslee, as a former member of the U.S. House of Representatives, has worked closely with Cantwell on a number of issues.
Introducing the vice president, Cantwell called Biden a 'progressive rock star,' referencing his sponsorship of the Violence Against Women Act of 1994, his proactive response to the wars in Yugoslavia in the '90s, and, of course, his recent expression of support for same-sex marriage.
'Joe! Joe! Joe! Joe! Joe! Joe! Joe! Joe!' chanted attendees as Biden began to speak.
'Be careful, or I won't go home,' he responded with a smile.
Biden reminisced on when he first made Cantwell's acquaintance many years ago and expressed his admiration for her.
'She's smarter than me, she's smarter than almost everyone I know, and don't screw around with Maria!' said Biden.
First elected to the Senate in 1972, Biden noted that only 13 senators have served with more Senate colleagues than he. In his eyes, he said, Cantwell is one of the greatest senators ever.
'She gets it. The other guys don't get it,' said Biden. 'I've met few senators who have the power of their convictions as much as Maria Cantwell.'
Biden criticized Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and the Republican Party, calling Romney 'George Bush on steroids.'
'I love Joe Biden,' said Ron Sims, deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and former King County executive, 'because his little slip changed the course of a huge debate in civil rights.'
Joe Fugere, the owner of Tutta Bella Neapolitan Pizzeria, spoke about the economic recovery over the last few years in relation to his small business.
Said Fugere of his most recent expansion, 'Without the Democratic leaders fighting for Main Street and small business, those 50 jobs wouldn't be there.' Tutta Bella has four locations in the Seattle area.
King County Councilmember Joe McDermott spoke on Cantwell's history with regard to LGBT issues, citing her sponsorship of the Mathew Shepard Act, her support for repeal of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' and other progressive measures.
'Maria is a strong advocate of marriage equality,' said McDermott. 'We have to approve Referendum 74, we have to re-elect President Obama, we have to re-elect Vice President Biden, we have to re-elect senator Maria Cantwell, and then, and only then, can my fiancé Michael and I pick a date and send out invitations.'
King County Executive Dow Constantine also expressed support for Cantwell, pointing to her efforts to repeal DADT. He recalled Biden once visited his class at the UW School of Law.
Cantwell is seeking her third term in office and is generally favored to win re-election.
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