DENVER -- No lobbyist party at this week's Democratic convention approached the mood of celebration and good cheer among ordinary folk riding home from Barack Obama's acceptance speech on the F line of Denver's light rail system.
"I feel, like, connected to this politics campaign like I haven't ever been before," said a young woman named Sierra Velasquez, joking of her close encounter with a confetti gun.
It was a cool, glorious night. Passengers bid goodnight to strangers as they decamped at the Arapahoe and Belleview stations. "Obama! All right!" shouted one group of teenagers.
The F-line crowd had no idea what cable TV pundits were saying, but several were pleased at the toughness of Obama's words.
"He's not going to take the usual (bleep) the other guys hand out," Gene Russell said. "My neighbor is involved in politics. He got me a ticket. I almost didn't go. I went when I heard Stevie Wonder was going to be there. But Obama, man, he's tough."
The western suburbs of Denver are generally considered the key battleground for Colorado's nine electoral votes. It's an upper-middle-class land of soccer moms and minivans. The F line, by contrast, goes south beside a freeway as jammed as our Interstate 405 at rush hour.
Some teens and 20-somethings on the train confessed to being, at best, irregular voters until Obama came along. Colorado still has more registered Republicans than Democrats, but the Democrats have dramatically narrowed the gap.
"I heard him earlier this year -- he moved my heart," said Bill, 19, a college student who would not give his last name. Bill grabbed his heart, got a laugh from his girlfriend, and joked, "She cried during tonight's speech."
It's likely that the locals on the F-line will soon be contacted by Obama's campaign. The acceptance speech has been treated as a recruiting tool by a campaign that has built the largest grass-roots donor base in American history.
Asked about John McCain, a teenager named Christy gave a one-word answer: "Old!" She was prompted to go to the speech by her mother, and welcomed Obama's promise to make college more affordable.
And, despite Obama's reference to Martin Luther King's "I have a dream" speech 45 years ago, the F line crew had only the vaguest knowledge of the 1963 March on Washington.
The fans on F line had to show ruggedness during the day. They waited endlessly to go through security perimeters, were in Invesco Field far longer than for a football game. The choreography was great, but still they were looking at just one guy far below.
"Doesn't matter," another 20-something said. "What
he said made us feel close to him."
Oh yes, and one more point. The recently minted Obama fans were happy the convention was over. Part of the light rail line was shut down all week as part of the security blanket around the Pepsi Center, where Democratic delegates convened to make history.
It was Denver's first national convention since the Democrats nominated the great populist orator William Jennings Bryan here exactly a century ago.
If Democrats clean up in November, Gov. Chris Gregoire will ask Obama if he will let her "vet some names" for the often-overlooked and often-incompetently filled Cabinet job of U.S. secretary of energy.
The reason is the long-behind-schedule cleanup of radioactive waste on the Hanford Nuclear Reservation along the Columbia River in Eastern Washington. "Every new administration starts over at Hanford. We can't afford that anymore," Gregoire said.
The governor also suggested her 2004 Democratic primary rival -- King County Executive Ron Sims -- as talent for an Obama administration ... "if Ron is interested in anything having to do with housing."
New administrations must fill thousands of jobs. Appointees can reflect favorably or disastrously on a president. The Federal Emergency Management Agency had a successful director, James Lee Witt, in the Clinton years. It was filled with political hacks under President Bush.
Leading Democrats from this state say they will use chits with Obama not to put friends in high places, but to wash corners of the federal government clean of cronyism.
Washington has a history of influential congressional delegations. It has, however, been 29 years since the last Cabinet secretary from the state -- Transportation Secretary Brock Adams -- was fired by President Carter.
Despite loads of name-dropping by Seattle newspapers, prominent Republicans were bypassed during selection of both Bush Cabinets.
Whom will Obama owe?
Gregoire gave him a well-timed endorsement -- as the state's leading feminists were supporting Hillary Clinton -- and has worked his cause at this week's Democratic National Convention.
Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash., was an early Obama backer. Smith was warned that he was putting his political career on the line.