So, it is great to be back here in Casa Grande. I tell you what I appreciate especially, is that you guys already know me, you know the issues, you know Paul Gosar [holds nose].
SO, that means I don’t have to give you guys a traditional speech. Looky here, there are 12 different candidates here who can give you a traditional speech. So since I only have a few minutes, I am simply going to talk to you about why I am wearing pants.
(Photo Rita Jo Anthony)
Well, these pants, here tonight. [steps from behind podium to reveal blue slacks]. Yep, you’re right, go ahead and take a picture, tell your friends, you saw me out of uniform. Usually I start my speeches saying I didn’t come here to play dress up, but I guess tonight I did, because I am clearly out of uniform. That’s right, the blue jeans and white shirt I usually wear are the same kind of uniform I wore when I was a plumber. Y’all know I was a plumber till I was 35, right? Didn’t learn to type till I was 27, started back to college at 30. That’s why I’m always dressed like a working man, just like a plumber, because when it comes to the GOP, I am STILL having to spend my days dealing w their crap.
And as I have taken on this battle, stayed at it, learned my lessons, taken a few lumps, but kept at it, more and more the Democrats around the state are giving me huge support, massive love. Not always the kind of support I might be looking for, but support none the less.
Take the folks of the Yavapai Democratic Women’s Club for example. Now, I have been crashing these ladies’ luncheons for over two years now. At first, I couldn’t even get some of them to listen to my words because they were so busy staring at my tennis shoes. But as I have grown and they’ve grown to know me, just like you guys, more and more, they’ve come to love my work. Like two weeks ago, I was their feature speaker and, since it was a women’s group, I was talking about the women in my life who’d shaped my politics and we were all crying. Seriously, I was reading through tears; there were five women in the audience just sobbing away. Which I guess is what you want from a speech: when they start crying, you can tell it’s effective (as long as they don’t start crying while you’re telling jokes).
But, anyway, when it was over, and folks were, like sniffing in their napkins and stuff, the first lady to come up to me was all visibly shaken. [moves over to the emcee and leans on him, pretending to be the woman in the story] She goes, “Mikel, that was a great speech. I was so moved. … Can I buy you a haircut?”
[shows off fresh hair cut] See? Pretty nice, huh?
A couple of days later I am back in Yavapai for their annual picnic. I sing, I dance, I speechify, I bring sound equipment and even stay and help pack up when it was done, and this other little old lady comes up w a bag and says, “Look, I brought you pants!” [shows off pants] Yeah!
Now, that explains how I got the pants, but now let me explain how the pants got here. Don’t give up out there. Bear with me, while I said this wasn’t a traditional campaign speech, it is an actual speech. There will be a point. I’ve almost figured out what it is.
(But just in case you’re interested, now that I’ve got some pants … folks, my shoe size is 10 ½. That's Chuck Taylor model Converse black high-tops, just saying.)
So, turns out that very next weekend, my loyal, trusty old van broke down and the mechanic who has kept it running for over 205,000 miles said, ‘no more highway driving.’ No highway driving? The congressional district is the size of the state of Pennsylvania, you can’t just walk it.
(Photo Beth Weisser)
How was I going to get the message to the people? I will tell you how: the people, the Democrats, are making sure it happens. People started offering me rides, folks started working with each other to cart me around the state like a package of donkey-flavored whup-ass to make sure the message gets out. I am currently on my fourth campaign trip since being grounded, but thanks to the help of Democrats like yourselves stepping up, I am here with you tonight. THX to people like ourselves becoming part of my campaign, making it their campaign.
The trip to get these pants here to you tonight, Saturday, actually started Wednesday, when LD5 state house candidate using a borrowed vehicle took me to Seligman. There we met the LD1 state house candidate, Frank Cuccia, and we attended a candidate forum. Then he took me the rest of the way to Prescott and deposited me at the house of the local women’s club chair, Toni Denis. Toni then freighted me around Prescott for two days so I could attend the local Democrats’ monthly meeting. Then a Prescott PC, Bill Gaulsow, took me on a 200 mile round trip across the mountains to Payson. In Payson we met the Gila County party chair, Chris Tilley, in time to decorate their float for their annual parade. She fed me dinner and then deposited me at the home 84 old Democrat, Mavis Denofsky. Mavis showed me the flags of the 38 countries she’s visited and I showed her TED Talks. Everybody Wins! Then this morning, your candidate for Corporation Commission, Jim Holway, joined me at the parade, brought me back to PHX where we gathered up his lovely wife, Ms Rita Jo Anthony, and then came on down here so I could enthrall you guys w tales of my pants.
After tonight’s event, the Holways will hand me over to your very own Barb and Maynard Njos, who will get me back to Apache Junction and I’ve worked out a ride from there back to PHX and I will just keep campaigning from there. And that doesn’t even address the way your county officers worked together to make I could get in once I got here, but that’s how this is done. That’s what this takes. So I know by now you can see this isn’t just the story of a pair of pants and this really isn’t even my story. This is the story of all the Democrats along the way who made sure they did their part to get this message out: Tell the Right They’re Wrong. End the GOP tyranny before they destroy us all. Go Team!
This is the story of us all working together on our ideas, our ideals-the people, the demos, working together to make it happen. I can assure you this is not the story of my own self-aggrandizement. There is nothing grand about trying to campaign without a working vehicle, other than the immense love and support I receive. Ask Felecia Rotellini when she's traipsing around the state if she feels grand when she’s about 300 miles into a 500 mile travel day. Ask Terry Goddard, sitting there. His campaign isn’t for his aggrandizement--former PHX mayor, former attorney general, gubernatorial candidate. His career has already pretty darn grand. He’s doing it because he believes in the Democratic cause, because he believes in you. Terry believes in the Democrats that collected his petition signatures across the state and contributed to his clean elections campaign, because he believes in the idea of us, just like I do, just you do, my fellow Democrats.
That’s really what this speech is about: the way your ideals and your efforts are actively, clearly making the difference in this state, whether it’s saving education, conserving water, or protecting Arizonans from the bigotry and BS of the GOP, or whether it is merely moving a pair of pants across state so I could come here and tell jokes about them. Yes, this is a Democratic story, the people, the demos, working together, working to get the message out, fighting to make sure we have a government that works for all the people.
Thank you, Democrats, for making sure I got this chance to tell it.
PS: I am still trying to figure out the trip from PHX to Kingman, if anyone has any suggestions?
--Mikel Weisser writes from the left coast of AZ