Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Rush Holt Townhall - But with the Better Candidate, Mike Halfacre

For the 2nd day in a row, I went to a Democrat-organized townhall dedicated to the healthcare bill. You can read my earlier postings about Frank Pallone's townhall from yesterday, but today it was Rush Holt's turn to face the voters, at the Middletown Arts Center.

His opponent in next year's elections, Mayor Mike Halfacre of Fair Haven, announced his own townhall to take place near the Arts Center. He read the entire 1000+ pages bill and was ready to listen to anyone. Mike Halfacre's townhall was scheduled for 5:30pm, before Rush Holt's at 7pm. Problem is that when I got there, around 5:15, there was already a 200+ people line to enter the building, so nobody really was willing to go to the Mayor's townhall. Eventually the line started moving, and they closed the door right in front of me. The auditorium could only seat 240 people, and apparently I was no. 241. And while Frank Pallone yesterday did 3 sessions, so everybody could get in, Rush Holt only did 1 session and that was it. In the meantime, around 1,000 people lined up, so most of them were sent home.

Waiting in line with Rhoda

But guess what? Mike Halfacre was ready to take everyone that got turned away by Rush Holt, and welcome them to his "open for all" townhall. So most of the people that couldn't get in went around the building to attent his event. The proportion there was about the same as in the line: 90% against government-run health care, and 10% in favor of the Democrat bill. Mike had an opening statement, and then he opened the microphone for whoever wanted to say something or ask a question. Probably 40 people lined up, and Mike let each of them be heard. I'm not talking about Holt, who handpicked the question he wanted to answer, but even Pallone yesterday, while letting everyone come in, wasn't ready to listen to everyone in line.

Crowds turned away by Rush Holt, waiting for Mike Halfacre

Middletown's deputy mayor Scharfenberger, introduce Mike Halfacre

Mike Halfacre during his opening remarks

You might say it's easy to hold a townhall when the majority of the attendance supports you, but he allowed everyone to speak. There were Democrats saying stupid things who were booed and jeered, but everytime Mike Halfacre tried to calm the crowd, and asked them to respect the speaker and let them finish. His responses were always on target, no avoiding to answer any question. There was a series of good anti-socialist speakers, and Mike had a great way of managing the crowd. In the beginning there must've been over 300 people on the lawn, and although some Obamaniacs tried to create trouble, it was all solved in a very civilized way. I think Mike was a great speaker and did very well at entertaining the crowds. There were many people there who probably had no idea who he was, or didn't know he's running against Rush Holt, and who were definitely convinced he's the candidate to support.

As I said, Mike came as a very likeable person. Although the Police wanted everybody to leave when it got dark, at least 100 people stayed well after sun down, in almost total darkness, while Mike's campaign manager helt a flashlight for those speakers who needed to read something. And even the Democrats stayed till the end, not just to get to the microphone but just to listen. I think that Mike Halfacre should do this kind of event in as many towns as possible throughout District 12. If he does as well everywhere, and it appeared like he could do it even in a Dem-leaning area, I think he'll finally be able to unseat Rush Holt. At least he's the first opponent in years who can speak in public and openly discuss any issue with the voters.

The meeting inside finished before Mike's, and people coming out were saying that all the questions were screened, and that Rush Holt simply avoided to answer anything he didn't like. That wasn't the case outside, since Mike Halfacre insisted that everyone is being heard, and answered any questions that was addressed to him.

It was another very interesting day, although not as heated up as yesterday. And I met a lot of my Facebook friends that I'd never seen before, but who helped spread the word about the event.

For more details about Mike's campaign, you can go to his website,


  1. Awesome and informative article, Chris! I also enjoyed the meeting outside, since I was one of the last people to get shut out of the Town you.
    I enjoyed hearing Mike, and was also impressed at how he let everyone speak. He mad it about the people, and not himself, which is rare in a politician.

  2. Well, if Holt doesn't want to let anyone speak, someone has to do it!
    And Mike is not a Washington politician yet, he actually works for a living. Holt, like a big majority of the Congress, never had a real job in the real world.

  3. well Holt was a Rocket Scientist and physics professors until he was in his 50's, when he wasnt the Democratic Party's choice for a candidate but won off the line and got into Congress.

    He had a lot of real jobs. Teachings and doing research for 30 years at the university is important.

    Mike Halfacre is a polical attorney who tries to gobble up as many contracts as he can.

  4. loveleadsus, I'm sure you'll disagree, but teaching in an University is not actually a real job. And that's his only job so far, he didn't have "lots". A real job means contributing in some way to the GDP, I think, either as an employee or as a business owner. And since our representatives are expected to lead us, I think it's more important to have there people who at least once in their life had a leading position in a productive organization. (an no, community organizing is not productive). And where does this "Rocket scientist" phrase come from? Having a degree in Physics (with a thesis on calcium absorbtion) doesn't make you a rocket scientist, the same as working in a car delearship doesn't make you a Nascar driver, and having an RN degree doesn't make you a heart surgeon.