storefrontDemocratic Party storefront in Independence, Missouri. Missouri Ds held their district conventions last weekend.
Photo: Bob Travaglione/ FoToEdge

On March 27th, the Sixth District Missouri Democratic Congressional Caucus came off without a hitch.

I showed up at 2801 Hornet Drive in Chillicothe, Missouri, 30 minutes early. The meeting was at the high school auditorium. We were there to elect a male and a female Obama delegate, and two male and one female delegates for Clinton. Their job is to represent the 6th District in the Democratic Convention in Denver this summer. I had my handouts ready with personal information and qualifications in hopes that my fellow delegates would find me worthy to be the “Male 6th District Obama Delegate.”

For this farm-boy from Langdon, the road to political success can be rocky at times.
If I could pitch like a Republican, that might be good enough to earn a spot in the majors, but in the bush leagues where I play, you have to be able to hit, too. You see, two years ago I ran for state representative as a Democrat”¦and lost.

So far during my political career, I am batting .333.

First off, the heavy hitters, the ones who are well known and more practiced at this sort of thing, had already done mailings and phone calls to the other delegates. One Obama delegate wannabe was the chairman of the 6th District Democrats. That’s tough competition for this rookie. Another one was a big shot attorney from St Joe.

Outside the Chillicothe Hornets auditorium in the parking lot, as I warmed up in the bullpen, psyching myself up for the heavy hitting politics to come, an old (well, not too old) Langdon acquaintance came wheeling in off the street. Born two years after me in the hinterland of northwest Missouri, Linda Lou is the daughter of one of my Mother’s best friends. She was one of my first playmates. (I’ve always liked girls.) Our Dads used to fly together, and help each other on the farm. Now, after too many lost years, our friendship was revived by a mutual interest; Obamamania, (otherwise known as Barack). In fact, it was that rekindled our friendship, when Linda Lou read a “Letter from Langdon.”

I think it was the catchy name that got her attention.

Linda calls me big bro. I call her little sis, and we generally agree on most things political. We may have had a slight divergence early in the campaign when I could have had the tiniest different political preference. But time and space healed the wound.

richard linda louRichard Oswald (Big Bro) and Linda Lou Bennington Nolan (Little Sis) at convention in Chillicothe.

Besides, my candidate dropped out.

But that’s politics. Anyway, I first met Sen. Barack Obama in Washington DC during a National Farmers Union Fly-in. That was about three years ago. The NFU asked Barack to stop in, so that we could fete him for his support of family farms.

I’ve heard from some pretty high sources that of all the candidates still running as well as those who’ve dropped out, that Obama’s voting record in Congress is more favorable to family farms than any other.

That is a game plan I can support.

Just for background, if you’ve never seen a bunch of farmers in a room full of free drinks and food, you may not realize quite what it’s like. Turn those same farmers loose to work up an appetite on Capitol Hill, and you’ve got what I would charitably call an “agricultural food fight” — everyone is laughing and drinking and eating, and really not paying much attention to anything except the hors d’ oeuvres table. Then this young Senator from Illinois with the “different” name started to talk, and the room got kind of quiet.

When I got home from DC, I told my wife, Linda, to watch the kid from the Land of Lincoln, because he might be President someday.

The guy could pitch AND hit.

So there I was in Chillicothe, trying to help my teammate from Illinois get elected, joking with my old diaper buddy from Langdon, and teaching her everything I know about politics. (I left out how to give a concession speech; some things are best left unsaid.) We campaigned, shook hands, jawboned and generally did the political thing until it was time to vote. First we elected the male Obama delegate. All the candidates took a turn to tout there wares, speechifying for the allotted 60 seconds: The Chairman was at the top of the order, then the lawyer, then me, and then three more.

Over on the other side of the room, the Clinton delegates were doing the same thing.

When the vote was tallied the Chairman won with close to half of the 58 available votes. The attorney came in second, five votes behind. At seven votes behind, you might say I hit a drive down the first base line. Even though I lost, I still got two more votes than I got in Tarkio in February, a 40% improvement. Not bad for a kid from the Missouri flatlands on his third career at bat — but not quite the decisive victory I had hoped for.

We weren’t allowed to make concession speeches. Too bad, I bat 1.000 on those.

Next we voted on the Obama female delegate. Before I could nominate “Linda Lou formerly from Langdon,” a couple of used car salesmen beat me to it. It’s hard to get ahead of those guys. Being an Obama volunteer since the beginning, Linda Lou had a letter of endorsement signed by THE candidate. The delegates took it all to heart.

Linda Lou hit it deep into the stands behind center field.

The final step before the national convention will be for all the delegates to meet again in Columbia, Missouri, for the state convention. Twenty at large delegates will be chosen, and added to the 68 delegates chosen from Missouri’s nine Congressional Districts, to give Missouri a total delegate count of 88 for the National Convention in Denver.

One thing we know for sure, not everyone from Langdon is at the bottom of the political order. If you see her in Denver, say hello to Linda Lou for me.

Except for concession speeches, I taught her everything she knows about politics.

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