More Proof That Frank Pallone Is Worried About Anna Little
So I'm making a right at the corner of Waterwitch and Shore Blvd and there he is! With that unmistakable funny walk, unique hairdo and squinty eyes, none other than Frank Pallone is waddling his way behind the food vendors at the Highlands Clam Festival last night. Darn, I left my camera at the office. The Blackberry will have to do. Luckily I'm a regular at the SandWitch Shoppe and Skip has already given me permission to park in his private lot.
I park quickly and stick my head into the shop to thank Skip. He's not there so I point my gas guzzling SUV out to his employee and I'm on my way to find Phoney Palloney in action.
I head into Huddy Park where there are several hundred people seated at picnic tables listening to the tunes of Chris Turner and The Steel Rail Blues, while enjoying their food and the good company. Frank was no where to be found in the crowd or in the lines of the food court. Could I have missed him? I look north down Shore Boulevard to see if he's heading to the parking lot or the VFW Beer Garden. Nope. I ask a few people if they've seen him. "Who?," they ask. Oh well, I must have missed him.
I start heading towards the Highlands Business Partnership booth on the corner of Waterwitch and Bay to see if they need any help. I'm not running for anything, but still it takes me 10 minutes or so to walk the 50 yards through the crowd as I'm greeted by friends and acquaintances from Highlands, Atlantic Highlands and Middletown.
There he is! Chatting it up with the most ardent Anna Little supporters I know at the HBP booth. How did Frank get through that crowd faster than I did?
I chuckle under my breath knowing that the women Frank is talking to will keep him occupied all night if he lets them. Every candidate who has ever walked door to door in Highlands knows the drill. Your opponent's supporters will say nice things and ask all kinds of questions to keep you engaged until your blood sugar drops in order to keep you from having a productive outing. These are the voters who trained Anna Little.
I back off, figuring if Frank sees me snapping pictures he might move on.
10 minutes later I see Frank smiling and waving as he backs away from the HBP booth and heads south down Bay Ave through the non-food vendors, the least crowded stretch of the festival. This guy might be the worst retail campaigner I have ever seen.
In the minute it takes me to get to Bay Ave Frank and his aide have already made it to the end of the block of vendors and are heading back down the street. I don't know if they saw me or not, but every time I went to snap a photo, Frank turned away. There were mascots from Valley National Bank also walking down the street, I thought I'd try to get a shot of Frank with the cartoon characters. That could be useful on the blog over the next couple of months.
Finally we make eye contact, shake hands and say hello. I couldn't tell if for sure if Frank knew who I was, there was a recognition that at least I knew him, but he didn't greet me by name. Instead he introduced his aide, Bill Flannery or Finnigan. Irish with an F but not Fitzsomething. "Hi Bill, Art Gallagher," I said as we shook hands. Bill knew who I was.
"Frank, can I get a photo of you with those Valley National mascots?" I asked. He giggled. "Valley National? You really want me to? Sure, I don't care," he said as he waved both hands back and forth. "No!" Bill said in a loud whisper as he got between me and Frank and started pulling him away. "Oh why not?" said Frank. "That's the MoreMonmouthMusings guy," said Bill and they both turned their backs on me and waddled away, but not before I snapped the shot on the top of this post.
I headed back into the crowd. Everytime I looked Frank's way, Bill was looking at me. It was one of those catch each others eye and each look away kind of thing. Heading through the main food court, I was stopped by two people who had gotten Senator Kyrillos's robocall about the the August 11th fund raiser for Anna Little. "Is that next Wednesday? We'll be there." (Note to the Senator, be prepared for a larger than expected walk-in crowd)
Frank and Bill were the only two guys at the festival wearing starched white shirts and ties. You couldn't miss them, but no one seemed to be noticing them. Bill kept noticing me.
I said hello to a member of the Highlands Democrats in the food court. Frank and Bill were on line at the Bahr's booth. Not talking to the other people on line, just standing there patiently waiting to order their dinner. "Oh, I'm glad I bumped into you," said the Highlands Democrat, "How do I give money to Anna Little's campaign?" This was too funny for words. I wasn't campaigning so he had no reason to engage me unproductively. Besides, he knows I know the game. I gave him the address of the campaign and the website address and he went on and on about Anna for about five minutes. Suddenly he sees Pallone leaving the Bahr's booth with his food. "Is that Frank Pallone? Don't let him see me talking to you." I love Highlands.
Frank and Bill are making their way toward the picnic tables, both with their dinners in hand, and they bump into former Atlantic Highlands Democratic Mayor Pete Donahue and his wife. "Oh hi, look who it is!" all around greeting as Frank hands his dinner to Bill. Bill cradles both dinners in his left arm while snapping photos of Frank and the Donahues with a camera in his right hand. I was impressed with that trick.
Smiles and back slaps and Frank and Bill are off to the picnic tables. They find spots across from each other and sit down to eat. There is no apparent greeting toward the other people at the table, but Bill keeps looking over his shoulder towards me and Frank pretends he doesn't notice me at all.
So how is any of this proof that Pallone is worried about Anna Little?
I've been to every Highlands Clam Festival in the last 9 years. Friends of mine run it. Frank Pallone has never been there before.
Frank was doing a lousy job working the crowd before he knew I was there. Did I throw him off his game? Maybe, but after 20 years in congress, Frank has to be pretty worried if I can throw him off his game at the Highlands Clam Festival.
He should be worried. Anna Little is going to clean his clock.
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Pallone's Town Hall Meeting, Red Bank, August 25, 2009