I stopped by the opening of the new Obama Richmond campaign office opening this afternoon, but I didn't get very far. The turnout was huge and completely overwhelmed the building. I peeked through the window and saw Congressman Bobby Scott and Mayor Dwight Jones addressing a packed room. With the crowd inside jammed elbow to elbow and a line stretching out the door I realized that I'd never get inside or get any decent footage and called it quits.
I think the event has to be classed as a success because the response was so overwhelming. On the other hand, the event and its organization had a number of drawbacks. For one thing, the location really was too small, and I have to wonder if the facility the campaign has rented is really going to be adequate for their needs. Richmond is an overwhelmingly Democratic city, and President Obama has a huge following here. The location at 408 E. Main St. is simply a large storefront. It has no outdoor facilities for large rallies. And during business hours visitors will be forced to pay for parking or walk several blocks. Compare this to the Kaine campaign's new office, which has a huge amount of parking and could easily host an outdoor rally of thousands of supporters. Indeed, Kaine hosted an indoor rally last weekend with over 400 people inside his headquarters without seriously crowding the large space.
Another problem that I hope will be addressed is the lack of communication between the campaign and local Democrats. I did not hear about this event until Thursday evening after I returned home from a Richmond City Democratic Committee meeting. Several events were announced at the RCDC meeting, but the Obama office opening was not one of them.
I am the 6th Ward chair for RCDC and the Obama headquarters is located in my ward, but I had to read about the opening at the Richmond Times Dispatch website, which made an offhand reference to the opening. After that, it took me some digging online in order to find the details of the event. Hopefully the campaign and the local committees can do a better job of coordinating with each other going forward.