HELENA – Former Vice President Joe Biden turned out to be a very popular draw for Montana Democrats.
Tickets for Saturday’s 40th annual Mansfield Metcalf Dinner at the Lewis and Clark County Fairground sold out within hours after going on sale in February, prompting some folks to host viewing parties elsewhere.
Biden is the keynote speaker for the event that is a major fundraiser for the party.
“I think Joe is obviously very popular,” said Nancy Keenan, executive director of the Montana Democratic Party. “We’re thrilled he is coming to Montana and the enthusiasm of him coming here is off the charts.”
Biden, 75, is considered a possible presidential candidate in 2020.
He recently wrote a book, “Promise Me, Dad: A Year of Hope, Hardship, and Purpose.”
The book recounts the death of his 45-year-old son Beau from brain cancer in 2015 and Biden’s decision not to run for president in 2016.
The former U.S. Senator from Delaware served eight years as vice president under President Barack Obama. In 2017, Obama presented Biden with the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his service to the country.
Roy Loewenstein, Montana Democratic Party communications director, said the 1,300 tickets at $75 each sold faster than expected.
“I think we were all a little bit surprised,” he said. “We knew Joe Biden is exceedingly popular. We expected a lot of interest, but we’re surprised at the level of interest.”
He said it was indicative of a couple things.
“Joe Biden speaks to a lot of people in the Democratic Party,” Loewenstein said. He also added there is a lot of political energy over the past couple months from events such as women’s marches and people getting involved in the process.
Others slated to speak at the event U.S. Sen. Jon Tester, Gov. Steve Bullock, Senate Democratic Leader Jon Sesso and House Democratic Leader Jenny Eck.
But don’t worry if you didn’t get a ticket. The Montana Democratic Party is live-streaming the event over Facebook and has encouraged party county central committees to gather and watch online.
For details, go to http://montanademocrats.org/video/.
In 2017, New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker headlined the dinner.
Republicans had a top name for their shindig in Yellowstone County on Friday.
David Clarke, former sheriff of Milwaukee County in Wisconsin and supporter of President Donald Trump, appeared Friday at the “Let’s have a ball and build a wall” Yellowstone County Republican Lincoln-Reagan Day Dinner in Billings.
During the 2016 Republican National Convention, Clarke, a cowboy-hat-wearing sheriff was one of the few African-Americans to speak in support of Trump’s candidacy.
He is known as a vocal supporter of gun rights and is a member of the National Rifle Association.
He faced lawsuits in Wisconsin and criticism over the operations at the county jail he oversaw, where four inmates died last year.
Clarke served as sheriff from 2002-2017, resigning in August to pursue other opportunities.
He recently published a memoir, “Cop Under Fire.”