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Area Democrats gathered at two locations on Saturday evening to visit with the party’s local, regional and state candidates in November’s general election.
The first gathering was at The Depot, where a reception was held for Alexi Giannoulias, the Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate seat formerly held by President Barack Obama.
That reception was hosted by one of his campaign staff members, Andy Schwarm, a Loogootee area native and Brownstown High School graduate, and his mother, Ann Schwarm.
Giannoulias said both of his parents were immigrants who came to America from Greece “with nothing.
“What they had was the fundamental belief that America was more than a place, that it’s a promise, a promise that if you’re willing to work hard and struggle and sacrifice, you could accomplish anything.”
During a week-long trek of the state, Giannoulias said, he’s seen “people who have been devastated by this recession.
“I think we just need some fresh leadership in the United States Senate,” he said.
The people of Illinois, Giannoulias said, “can inject some fresh leadership in the U.S. Senate, so we can invest in things like early childhood education, so we can re-invest in middle-class families, so we can start creating jobs right here in Illinois.”
Giannoulias said he is running for the Senate seat “because I believe in public service.
“Politics is a great avenue for public servants who can make this world a better place,” he said. “And as idealistic and as cheesy as that sounds, I still feel that way.”
Giannoulias classified his race with Republican Mark Kirk for the seat now held by Democrat Roland Burris as “one of the most important races in the country this year.
“It is a race about the future of the United States,” he said.
Giannoulias said he’s been hearing that there are “a lot of folks who are scared about the future of this country… who will not vote.
“That’s the worst thing we can do. When times are tough, now is not the time to not get engaged,” he said.
Giannoulias pledged to the group at the reception that above everything else, “No one will work harder than I will.”
After the reception, Giannoulias made a stop at a chicken dinner and rally held by the Fayette County Democratic Central Committee at the American Legion Home in Vandalia.
Randy Braun, who was recently chosen to succeed long-time chairman Maurice Trexler, kicked off the rally with some introductory comments, then turned the podium over to Fayette County State’s Attorney Stephen Friedel, who served as the emcee.
Those that Friedel introduced included the incumbent county clerk and recorder, Terri Braun, and the incumbent county treasurer, Rose Hoover.
Other candidates who spoke included Tim Dudley, the party’s candidate for the 51st District seat in the Illinois Senate, and Tim Bagwell, the Democrat who is opposing incumbent U.S. Congressman John Shimkus.