While eating from plates piled high with barbecued chicken, beans and rice at Nipomo Regional Park Monday, local Democrats expressed hope of winning political races from city hall to the White House in November.
About 400 of the party's faithful met in the park for the 48th Labor Day Barbecue. They heard speeches from Art Torres, chairman of the California Democratic Party; Peg Pinard, state Senate candidate; and Stew Jenkins, 33rd District Assembly candidate.
Labor Day typically marks the transition of political races from a comfortable run to a full-on sprint. Local Democrats said they believe the meaning of the holiday gives them a distinct advantage.
"It's the party of the working man," said Larry Crawford, a member of the Santa Maria Democratic Club. Crawford said he was hopeful that more Democrats would soon be elected to council seats in that city.
Peg Pinard, who's running for state Senate against 33rd District Assemblyman Abel Maldonado, also alluded to the gainfully employed Monday.
"The great turnout here is reflective of how important issues of health care, education and a balanced budget are to the average worker," Pinard said.
Maldonado responded Monday by saying he spent much of his tenure as assemblyman working on those issues.
"I stand by my voting record," he said.
Mary Morgan of Grover Beach was a walking advertisement at the picnic, as her hat bore the logos of more than a dozen candidates. She believes candidates from the Democratic Party best represent the interests of feminists.
Others at the picnic were there to express support for presidential candidate John Kerry in his heated run against President George W. Bush. Speakers made frequent swipes at Bush, and the barbs were met with enthusiastic applause by the crowd, who waved signs supporting Kerry and running mate John Edwards.
In addition to raising awareness before the Nov. 2 election, Monday's picnic raised money for the Democratic Party's offices in San Luis Obispo County.
* Staff writer Quintin Cushner can be reached at 739-2217 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sept. 7, 2004