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Juneau Democrats cheer Obama's speech

Posted: September 7, 2012 - 12:10am
Andrea Ebona-Michel reacts to President Barack Obama's acceptance speech as she and other Democrates hold a watch party at T.K. Maguires Thursday.  Michael Penn / Juneau Empire
Michael Penn / Juneau Empire
Andrea Ebona-Michel reacts to President Barack Obama's acceptance speech as she and other Democrates hold a watch party at T.K. Maguires Thursday.

At a downtown Juneau “convention watch party,” supporters of President Barack Obama watched as he accepted his party’s nomination at the Democratic National Convention in distant Charlotte, N.C., Thursday evening.

More than 25 people gathered at T.K. Maguire’s to watch the convention speeches of the president and Vice President Joe Biden. Clipboards inviting attendees to sign up to volunteer for the Obama campaign were passed around.

“We need your name and email address, as well as the best way to contact you,” Nancy Courtney, the watch party’s organizer, announced during a lull between Biden’s speech and Obama’s speech.

Mayoral candidate Cheryl Jebe also put in an appearance, entering the lounge just as Obama stepped out onto stage on the three flat-screen televisions arranged around the room.

The speech was well received, with many lines drawing applause and cheers at T.K. Maguire’s. The energy level dropped for a minute or two after a technical problem caused the video and audio of Obama’s address to freeze temporarily, but by the time the president wrapped up a few minutes later, the group of mostly seniors was back to whooping and cheering for their candidate of choice.

“I loved it,” said retired teacher Nancy Slook. “I thought he was right on in so many ways.” She ticked off several points of the speech, including Obama’s defense of the automotive industry bailout, his remarks on military veterans and his education plan, that resonated with her.

Jebe said she is not a Democrat and her vote remains up for grabs this November, but she offered praise for the address.

“I thought it was a very positive, uplifting speech, and I look forward to hearing more,” said Jebe.

National polls and surveys of swing states suggest Obama has a narrow lead over rival Mitt Romney, the Republican ex-governor of Massachusetts, but nearly everyone seems to agree this will be a close presidential election.

Yet Alaska, which has not lent its three electoral votes to a Democrat since President Lyndon B. Johnson carried the state in 1964, does not look to be in play at all.

“It’s not even in the realm of consideration,” said Jerry McBeath, professor of political science at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, several hours before the convention speech Thursday. “Obama will not be Alaska’s favorite candidate.”

And so, with Alaska looking like a lock for Romney, Obama supporters in the state are looking Outside.

“We’re calling local people to build our volunteer base, and we’re also starting to make persuasion calls to Nevada,” Courtney told attendees.

Obama won Nevada in 2008, but the state was carried by President George W. Bush in 2004. It is considered a battleground state this year.

After the speech, Courtney seemed, as one of Obama’s favorite expressions goes, “fired up and ready to go.”

“The Obama campaign is alive and well in Alaska,” Courtney declared, to cheers from the audience. “We are reaching out to the swing states, and we will change and make this election happen. We will reelect President Obama.”

Who wins Alaska may be a foregone conclusion, and who wins the election is too early to say. But Slook said that for her part, she is looking forward to getting involved.

“I’m going to do whatever I can, and I’m really excited to volunteer,” Slook said. “This is the first time I’ve ever done anything for a campaign. And I felt really energized by the Obama campaign, and that’s why I’m here tonight.”

• Contact reporter Mark D. Miller at 523-2279 or at mark.d.miller@juneauempire.com.

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