It’s the biggest night of the year for Iowa Democrats as activists and donors gather for the state party’s annual Fall Gala event (formerly the JJ Dinner) in Des Moines. Alec Baldwin’s booking for the event, combined with a hotly contested seven-way gubernatorial primary, boosted ticket sales into the thousands.
The evening is also one of the last big opportunities for the candidates for governor to show off their organizational strength in front of the party faithful. Many campaign went all out to bring in supporters, rally ahead of time and march to the convention hall to demonstrate the enthusiasm around their campaigns.
John Norris, Fred Hubbell and Nate Boulton all held pre-event rallies in the same building a block south of the Iowa Events Center. The three gatherings were so close to each other that you could hear chants and cheers from the other candidates’ crowds in each one’s own room. Cathy Glasson plans a post-event party at the same Forte/Buzzard Billy’s event place later this evening.
Boulton gathered his forces in the well-lit ballroom at Forte. Hundreds of labor members representing unions that have endorsed the senator swarmed his event. The thunder sticks made a reappearance.
Boulton led a nearly 1,000-person army, the largest crowd of any candidate here tonight, on a march up the street to the convention hall.
Just down the hallway, Hubbell spoke to a sea of green-clad supporters on hand to support the Des Moines businessman. The Isiserettes drum line provided a very loud and energetic musical performance for the crowd.
Todd Prichard, who waged his own gubernatorial bid earlier this year, and Chris Hall both addressed the crowd as to why they had just recently endorsed Hubbell.
Campaign staffers and volunteers distributed green t-shirts and glow sticks to their supporters, including a few pint-sized ones.
Just upstairs in Buzzard Billy’s, Norris hosted a smaller gathering of well-wishers before the evening’s festivities kicked off.
Over at the Iowa Events Center, campaigns set up ahead of time at booths. Norris’ had a boxing-themed one, which will apparently tie into his speech.
Cathy Glasson’s campaign made miniature bull horns, a symbol of her grassroots candidacy.
Ross Wilburn chatted with attendees early on as they entered the hall.
Several congressional campaigns set up their presence as well.
Here a Glasson supporter maneuvers through the Hubbell march to make her way into the event.
Every year campaigns come up with more and more creative glow-in-the-dark signage for the inside of the event. Here’s Andy McGuire’s version:
Starting Line will have a lot more coverage of IDP’s Fall Gala either late tonight or tomorrow morning. Until then, follow along with us on Twitter.
by Pat Rynard