Monday, April 7, 2008

McCracken for Congress – Progress Report - April 7, 2008


The headline says it all as it was a very busy and sometimes hectic week. I started out the week Sunday and Monday in Harrisburg where I was attending the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania spring conference. I really wish I could have been in State College to see Senator Barack Obama’s historic visit to Penn State but, I had already scheduled to attend the CCAP conference several weeks ago. I’ve heard from people who attended and they were all still buzzing late in the week from the rally.

I left Harrisburg Monday afternoon to attend the Lycoming County Democratic Dinner in Williamsport on Monday evening. Lycoming County Chair Jessie Bloom put together a fantastic event that was so well attended they filled up 2 rooms with Democrats who are excited about 2008.

Meeting fellow Democrats in Lycoming County

Lycoming County is split between the 5th and the 10th congressional districts. As I was working the rooms, I shook hands with one gentleman who apologized and said “sorry, you just wasted a handshake, I’m from the 10th district”. I countered back to him, “No, it wasn’t wasted, if I met a Democrat who is going to be working to get Democrats elected in 2008 that was good enough for me”. All the candidates in attendance got the chance to speak and Auditor General Jack Wagner was the keynote speaker for the evening.

Tuesday brought 2 events in Centre County with an afternoon forum for the 5th District Democratic candidates at the Foxdale Retirement Community in State College. Art Goldschmidt moderated the event and the residents asked many important questions.

Meeting and answering the tough questions at Foxdale.

Then it was on to Bellefonte for a candidate’s forum with the 3 Democratic candidates taking center stage from 6:30 to 7:30 with the Republicans getting their chance from 8:00 to 9:30.

Wednesday brought an early morning trip to Clarion for legislative breakfast sponsored by the Clarion Chamber of Commerce. This event had 16 candidates, 5 for the PA House seat being vacated by Rep. Fred McIllhatten and 11 of the 12 candidates for the 5th District seat. Wednesday evening had us back in Centre County for the League of Women Voters debate. Again, the Democratic candidates went first from 7:00 to 8:00 with the Republican candidates following. Is it wrong to think the Republican candidates had viewers tuning out in favor of American Idol both nights?

Also on Wednesday, we released the news that both the IBEW Local #5 and the Ironworkers Local #772 have endorsed my candidacy. It is important to me that we get endorsements from organizations that represent the hard working people of the 5th Congressional District.

You can read the endorsement letters here!

Thursday we had the Jefferson County Democratic spring banquet in Reynoldsville followed by a candidate forum for the Democratic candidates at the IBEW building in Clearfield.

Friday brought an important visitor to Clearfield County as US Senator Richard Durbin, the Assistant Majority Leader (also known as the Majority Whip), stopped in Clearfield and DuBois to support the Obama for President campaign. It really is an exciting time for Democrats in central Pennsylvania as we are getting real attention from the presidential campaigns for the first time in my lifetime.

Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL) visited Clearfield to talk about the Obama campaign.

The longest day of the week was Saturday. I was up a 5:15 AM to drive to Warren for a Democratic breakfast at 9:00 AM. I found my theme that communities in the 5th district share many similarities took a new twist on Saturday morning. The Clearfield County Courthouse sets at the corner of Second and Market streets and, believe it or not, the building where the Warren County breakfast was held was on the corner of Second and Market streets. I pointed this coincidence out and the crowd got a chuckle from my observation. I shared the microphone with 3 of the candidates running for the 3rd congressional district along with fellow 5th district candidate Rick Vilello. We also heard from Jeff Eggleston for the Obama campaign and Congressman Marion Berry for the Clinton campaign.

Then it was on to Clarion for a League of Women Voters debate at Clarion University at 2 PM. Rick Vilello and I shared the stage with 7 of the 9 Republican candidates for a joint debate. Rick and I did the Democratic party proud as we addressed the issues important to the hard working people of the district. The event concluded with a brief verbal skirmish between 2 of the Republican candidates during the closing statements. I was very pleased when the Clarion County Democratic Chairman and several people in the audience came up and congratulated both of the Democratic candidates for our performances.

Saturday ended in Ridgway with the Elk County Democratic Spring Banquet. Kelly joined me in Ridgway to hear 2 keynote speakers, Congressman Marion Berry representing the Clinton campaign and Jay Paterno representing the Obama campaign. And, I can’t forget to mention that Victor Ordonez represented the campaign in Mifflin County for their spring dinner on Saturday evening. A big thank you to Victor for making the trip to Lewistown. It would have been impossible to do the debate in Clarion and also make it to Lewistown.

It was a long day to end a long week but I feel our campaign made great progress over the last 7 days. The only downside to this is the reality that campaigning in such a large district is taking a toll on the family life. Kelly and I knew what we were getting into back in January but it is difficult now that we are in the middle of the campaign. April 22nd is coming fast and it will be nice once the outcome is known. Either we will be campaigning through November or life will settle back down.

Mark B. McCracken
Your Candidate for Congress

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