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Approve 71 campaign manager Josh Friedes takes the mic.
Party: Approve R-71

Location: Pravda in Capitol Hill

Mood: Cautious optimism giving way to outright celebration

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Election Night '09: Approve R-71 is Mostly Sure, Almost Positive That Washington Approves of Them

joshfriedes1.JPG
Approve 71 campaign manager Josh Friedes takes the mic.
Party: Approve R-71

Location: Pravda in Capitol Hill

Mood: Cautious optimism giving way to outright celebration

Drink of Choice: Gin and tonic. "Anything low-cal," says the bartender with a knowing nod.

Pity the poor fool who has to spend election night in the uncomfortably banal confines of a hotel conference room. Approve 71's party had everything theirs didn't.

14-foot ceilings. Hardwood. Pretty people. Four-dollar beers. And best of all, a righteous cause.

Follow us past the idling King 5 satellite truck on Union, won't you. Keep going past the aqua-and-white balloons tied to the sconces outside and the banner running the length of the stairs, grab a wristband and let's tackle this thing with some time-stamped snapshots.

8:07 First podium appearance from campaign manager Josh Friedes. He's got a story for us: His favorite e-mail of the campaign came from a "100% disabled" Vietnam vet who donated $15. The vet said he didn't know why a man would want to be with another man (set-up) but that he'd been married to the most wonderful woman in the world for 31 years and he still didn't know why she wanted to be with him (punch-line). So what does he know?

8:10 To goad the troops, Friedes says strike up the Protect Marriage ad projected on an adjacent wall. When they get to the part of the commercial where the scary voice over guy says approving domestic partnerships will lead to more pornographic reading material in schools one lady pipes in, "You mean like the Bible?"

8:21 "This fucking sucks," says the wispy kid in chunky D&G frames in front of me. "They're not announcing the results fast enough." Normally when a person makes a blatant yet indirect attempt to get my attention I file them in the Avoid category. But Blair wins me over.

For one, he has an iPhone. For two, his iPhone's wallpaper features a picture of his cat, Hillary Clinton, who also happens to be a boy. And for three, thanks to his impatience Blair is able to tell me that, not counting King County, Approve R-71 is down eight points. Boo.

8:25 Friedes interrupts The Pointer Sisters "I'm so Excited" to announce that King County is coming in and it's 65% Approve. Woo-hoo, Seattle! Way to protect these nice people from the Hinterlands!

8:29 The gays can throw a party, but they can't chill a beer for shit. Is the warm Amstel Light a paternalistic nudge to consider something less caloric? If so, very cagey. Very cagey indeed, sirs and madams.

8:35 Text message confirms that Tom Carr just conceded. "Oh fuck yeah!" says Blair, exchanging a goofy white-guy high-five with his pudgy Donnie Wahlberg look-alike of a friend. Guess they're Pete Holmes men.

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Blair and the guy who may or may not resemble Donnie Wahlberg.

8:40 From real, live adult and Approve 71 campaign spokeswoman Sue Evans we get the news that updates aren't coming quicker because we're still waiting for a big drop from Pierce County. Evans is the first of many to say that, while things look good now, it's too early to call it one way or the other. What number would she need to sleep well tonight? "Over 50 percent," says Evans, "and we're on a roll."

8:53 Aww, sad. Blair is leaving. If anyone can look unimpressed at a party where French house is bumpin' and the relative din is equivalent to a 737 engine in full bore it's this guy. "There are no trashcans in this room," he says, as way of explanation for the early exit. Goodbye, my only friend!

9:01 Odd looking fellow in a pageboy cap sidles up. "You're intriguing me more than anyone else right now," says pageboy. "You're very Jack Kerouac." Put away rape whistle when I realize he's just being friendly and wants to introduce me to his date, Snohomish state rep and domestic partnership co-sponsor Marko Liias. Commence uninterrupted stream of pleasant, if predictable, politico talking points.

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Little-known fact: Snohomish County rep Marko Liias (right) has 1,775 Facebook friends.

9:10 Friend of Liias says he's headed to Dow Constantine's party. "We're going to go beg for jobs!"

9:32 Let's play cram the clown car with politicians! A curtain call for all the elected officials in attendance, as Liias, State Senator Ed Murray, Representative Jamie Pedersen, State Senator Jim McDermott and all their various pardners crowd around the podium.

9:38 Pedersen invites Charlene Strong, the non-elected face of the Approve 71 campaign, up on stage.

9:39 Getting a little dusty in here, isn't it?

9:48 We're in full back-patting mode here. Friedes has a laundry list of acronymical orgs that helped with the movement. The phrase "victory has many fathers" springs to mind.

9:53 Friedes: "I want to take this moment to say a few words about our finance committee." And I want to take the same moment to say a word about this spread. Hey look, they're already putting out the victory chocolate.

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10:02 And loogit! Trash cans! With wheels! Blair come back!

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Now: The party is over in Maine. That makes gay marriage zero for 31 states. Approve 71 may not be going for the full enchilada, but the domestic partnership quesadilla they're seeking would still be historic. And as the hoopla ends for the night, it looks like Sue Evans will sleep well: Approve is currently running above 50%.

Congrats to all who worked on the campaign. You guys throw a mean party. But more importantly, you throw a mean party for all the right reasons.

 
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