Russ Feingold. I knew I'd love him but I didn't know how much. Biggest applause lines: " It's not just getting the power; it's standing on principle when we have the power." "We have ideas, bold ones. We just have to express them boldly." "Don't be weak and full of fear." "I thought the NSA wiretapping issue was right in the strike zone of what the founding fathers meant by 'high crimes and misdemeanors...." He said that wherever he went, whoever he talked to, whatever the setting, people said the same thing: "When are you guys going to stand up?" After he left the stage, a discussion in my row ensued as to whether his balls are brass or titanium.
Attorney General Stephen Rowe. Even though I'm mad at him for not running against Snowe, I've always liked and respected Rowe for his solid record of achievements and progressive values. But I've never heard him speak the way he did yesterday. He was on fire. He was unbelievably eloquent on loving and supporting the troops, loving this nation, and the myriad ways the Iraq war is wrong. He sounded like he's an anti-Beltway type, too, riffing on polls, pundits, and consultants. He talked about people's hunger for leadership. And he spoke at length on Democratic values, shouting, "Never apologize for our values! Never apologize for being a Democrat!"
Eric Mehnert. Get this man a campaign manager - he's going to need one after next week's primary. He's not a master orator, but he spoke from the heart, without notes, with absolute command and intensity. His themes are fighting injustice and restoring the social contract. He spoke frequently of moral courage. A civil rights attorney, he would absolutely shred Snowe on warrantless wiretapping, habeas corpus, torture, the 750 signing statements....
Best convention achievement:
The impeachment resolution, of course.
Best complete and utter Maine mensch:
Neil Rolde. Historian, legislator, philanthropist, publisher, founder of Seeds of Peace, did I mention also a nice guy with a genuinely unaffected manner? They don't make citizens any better than this. He introduced Feingold.
Best candidate entrance:
Rep. Mike Michaud, on a forklift.
Best excruciating weirdness:
Gubernatorial candidate Chris Miller, who spoke at length (and slowly) about the dire state of the planet, then showed a video of himself making the same points (only slower), then showed another video set "in the future," with outer-space sound effects, while a comedy duo on stage portrayed future Mainers realizing that all of Chris Miller's dire predictions had come true. The audience sat in stunned fascination.