Westport First Selectwoman Diane G. Farrell’s voice is a little hoarse and she has yet to catch up on her sleep, but she said today that attending the Democratic national convention in Boston this week was an “exhilarating” experience.
“It was my first convention and it was very exhilarating,” she said in an interview. “It’s sort of a spectacle but it’s important to our democracy. It was thrilling to participate.”
Westport First Selectwoman Diane Farrell works the crowd in Boston this week.(CLICK TO ENLARGE) WestportNow.com photo
Farrell, who returned to Westport Thursday morning after spending two nights in Boston, said she was struck by the blend of big-name politicians and well-known personalities with ordinary people from all over the country.
“I walked into the Sheraton Hotel lobby and there was Jesse Jackson, Jerry Springer, and (former Texas Gov.) Ann Richards,” she said. “Lots of people were freely mingling with them. It felt a bit surreal.”
The Westport official, who faces an uphill battle in her bid to unseat veteran Republican Rep. Christopher Shays in Connecticut’s 4th Congressional District, said she sat with the Connecticut delegation for the Tuesday and Wednesday evening sessions.
“(Connecticut Sen.) Joe Lieberman was with us and behind me was Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont while we were watching the John Edwards speech on Wednesday,” she said. “We had a good time.”
Wednesday morning Farrell was one of the featured speakers at the daily breakfast for the Connecticut delegation.
“It was an opportunity to spend some time with the Connecticut delegates and get to know them better and have them get to know me better,” she said.
Farrell said that event and others in Boston helped her connect with people who have contributed to her campaign as well as meet others who promised to make donations.
“It was very rewarding in that sense,” she said. “I made a lot of good contacts at a luncheon hosted by the Democratic Leadership Forum and at other places.”
She said she also compared notes with other Democratic congressional candidates from around the country trying to unseat Republican incumbents.
Asked if she encountered any surprises during her visit, Farrell replied, “Maybe the biggest surprise was the speech by the Rev. Al Sharpton. He just decided to do his own thing.”
As for the broadcast networks limiting their convention coverage to one hour in prime time on three nights, Farrell said while understandable, it was not especially laudable.
“The political junkies can watch on C-SPAN or CNN so they will get their fix,” she said.
“These are totally scripted productions, so you don’t have the spontaneity you might have. But Americans do need to pay attention.”
Farrell said while the overwhelming security was intimidating at times, Boston still managed to show a friendly side.
She said while exiting the Fleet Center one night and trying to find a cab back to her hotel, a Boston policeman offered to help her flag down a ride.
“He even opened the door for me,” she said. “I introduced myself as the mayor of Westport, Conn., and told him how much I appreciated what he and other first-responders were doing. I think he appreciated that.”