I'm finally back home in Montana from a week-long trip on the East Coast where, among other things, I attended the Progressive States Network's first annual gala (you may have seen it replayed on C-SPAN this weekend). The event followed a press conference with state legislators and U.S. Senators Harry Reid (D-NV) Ted Kennedy (D-MA) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) to trumpet the 29 states that have joined the Progressive States Network's Anti-Escalation Campaign by introducing or passing resolutions demanding President Bush stop escalating the war in Iraq. The gala drew over 200 people to honor past state legislators who are in Congress and current state legislators who are fighting the good fight in their 2007 legislative sessions. The size and enthusiasm of the crowd - and the attendance of such distinguished guests - are a testament to how successful the staff at the Progressive States Network has been in building this organization. Like other members of the organization's board, I put in so much of my own personal time for the Progressive States Network, and when I get exhausted I just remember how incredibly important state legislative work is to the progressive movement. We are building something real here - and to attend this celebration was a great thrill. Here are a few pictures, in chronological order.
U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (VT) kicks off the event with a rousing speech
U.S. Sen. Jon Tester (MT), former president of the Montana State Senate, accepts an award for his outstanding state legislative service
Minnesota's Al Franken introduces Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison, who was just elected to Congress from the Minnesota State House
Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison accepts PSN's award for outstanding service
Moveon.org's Tom Matzzie (center) gives Kansas State Sen. Donald Betts (left) an award for Betts' resolution demanding Congress oppose President Bush's Iraq escalation
Iowa State Sen. Joe Bolkcom accepts PSN's award for his Iraq resolution
Washington State Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles accepts PSN's award for her Iraq resolution