Yes I know, moto dai already has a diary that offers pictures and that will give you something of a sense.
But I thought a little textual information would not hurt.
I got there before 6:30, stayed until a bit after 9, and got to talk to a lot of people, both congress critter and kossacks. Continue below the jump for some verbal detail.
The master of ceremonies was NYBri, our own Brian Keeler, who came down from NY with his campaign Manager Audrey. Once we had sufficient people present, and the congress critters began to arrive, Brian took care of the introductions.
Coming in you were likely to see carneasaburrito (I am probably not spelling that right), who was running the registration desk. You were likely to be greeted by the principal local organizer, HowardPark (who posts more often at Mydd, but who does post occasionally at big orange). Some of the other recognizable names would have included Adam Siegel (busy lobbying all the congresscritters on energy - but that's okay, I was doing the same thing on NCLB), no weasels, Seth Robinson, gina (Cooper, our boss of ykos), . . . you should be getting the sense that this online community was represented, including a number of people who identified themselves as lurkers. FPer Kagro X showed up somewhat late, but was present. Matt Stoller arrived just before 9 PM. CSKendrick had come up from NC - like me he was part of the host committee (it means we donated a bit more money to help fund the event)- Chris was busy doing caricatures of people - I know, he did one of me. And the ever present logistics man, Nolan Treadway, was also there, dealing with people who registered late, and thus were not on the printout he had pulled in early afternoon. I'm not sure, but I think the total attendance was over 60.
One other early notable, besides the congresscritters, was Jim Dean, head of Democracy for America, who intends not only to come to Ykos, but to offer training there - he couldn't stay long because he had a local DFA DC event to attend as well.
of course the high point was the congresscritters. I spoke with four house and 2 senate, and we are hoping to even out that balance - I will explain in a bit.
The first to address the crowd was Russ Feingold, who was there with several people from his Progressive Patriot's Fund (a good cause to support). Feingold talked about how the netroots are changing politics. Sorry, I ddin't take notes, and cannot give a lot of details, but the crowd responded very positively.
He was followed by Rep. Brad Miller from NC, and NYBri's intro made it clear that the community wants him to run for the Senate. Brian said that he hoped Brad would announced his candidacy now. Brad took the microphone and announced that he was a candidate for an Article I office, which of course got a good laugh. That was for public consumption. I will tell you that the possibility of a Senate run is being considered - perhaps we will hear more one way or the other in the near future?
Among the other Congresscritters who spoke were Rep. John Hall of NY, who incredibly funny, Earl Blumenauer of OR, who wqas urging people to lean on Peter DeFazio to run and replace Gordon Smith in the Senate, Jerry McNerney of California (who when I thanked him for running the 2nd time told me that he didn't have a choice, the bad guy was still in office), and Senator Jon Tester of Montana, who is an incredibly warm and personal person to encounter: he makes you feel like you had known him your entire life.
It is clear that there is respect on the Hill for what this community has done. It is not clear how many of the critter will be able to join us - it will of course depend on the Congressional calendar. Feingold said we needed to persuade Reid that the Congress should be on break then so they can come out. Some of you may remember that an extended House session last summer kept Brad Miller from getting to a panel in which he was supposed to participate.
Enthusiasm for the forthcoming event is high. Gina talked about JONI - The Journal of Netroots Ideas - a print publication as a means of sharing the ideas of this community, which are often quite well developed. In my conversation with Blumenauer he acknowledge the expertise he has encountered in people here. Gina also talked about virtual participation for those who could not come to Chicago.
One thing to remember - the cost of attending is subsidized. The organizers have done this to make the event more accessible. It is already expensive enough for some people for travel and lodging, and considereing what you get from the convention, the fees are more than reasonable.
If you are somewhat more flush (meaning unlike me you did NOT owe Uncle Sam anything on those silly forms due today) - perhaps you might participate in the auction, or when you register kick in a bit more, or even make an outright contribution. It is for a good cause, to benefit our efforts at spreading our progressive message.
I apologize for this being only semi-coherent. I have been up since 5 AM, enjoyed myself (4 beers there, one since I got home), but decided despite that lack of cogency it was worth taking the time to share a bit.
and support Ykos2007!