After playing host to the first two conventions of the Maine Chapter of the College Democrats of America, the Bowdoin College Democrats have decided not to hold the annual convention on campus next year.
"Having the convention at Bowdoin the first two years helped solidify our presence around the state," Bowdoin Democrats Co-President Frank Chi '07 said.
"Next year, we hope to pass the torch to another chapter?and there are many up-and-coming strong chapters to choose from," he said.
The second Maine College Democrats Convention, which took place the weekend of September 30, drew 116 delegates from seven Maine colleges, according to Bowdoin Democrats Programs Co-Chair Anya Trundy '06.
The most widely attended convention event was political satirist Al Franken's keynote address on Saturday night, which drew an estimated 1,700 people.
Franken, introduced by Maine Governor John Baldacci, spoke to a full Morrell Gymnasium about U.S. Congressman Tom DeLay's indictment, the "intellectual sloth" of the current administration, and his court case with Fox over his book, Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right.
"This president was handed, probably through his own incompetence, an opportunity to lead not only this country, but the world, into a new century," Franken said, regarding President George W. Bush's response to the attacks on September 11. "Instead of using that moment to go after Osama Bin Laden, he let Bin Laden go and used it to attack Iraq so his cronies could get billions of dollars."
In an interview with the Orient, Franken was asked whether he fears being characterized as the Rush Limbaugh of the Left.
"Yeah, I worry about that. These are people who don't listen to what I say and mis-characterize it," he said. After giving an example of an issue involving minimum wage labor statistics, he continued, "The difference is that we get our labor statistics from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and he gets them from the Bureau of Rush's Butt."
Other speakers sponsored by the convention included campaign manager for Maine Won't Discriminate Jesse Connolly, candidate for U.S. Senate Jean Hay Bright, and Congressman Tom Allen. State Representative Emily Cain spoke about the importance of youth involvement in the political process and Congressman Mike Michaud led a discussion on labor in Maine.
The convention also included a number of optional workshops, including media, web, and chapter-building training.
"One of the most valuable things many convention-goers may have gained is simply the networking and knowledge of who is at the other colleges working," Bowdoin College Democrats IT Director Oliver Radwan '08 said. According to Radwan, the Bowdoin College Democrats swapped ideas on web site design with democrats from Colby College and discussed individual schools's strategies for Maine Won't Discriminate with delegates from the University of Maine at Farmington and at Orono.
"While the big highlight of the weekend in terms of turnout was Al Franken, some of the training sessions where everyone could get in a circle and exchange ideas and discuss techniques were, in my opinion, the best part of the weekend," Radwan said.