It is 11:20 a.m. and I arrive at the polling place at the Knights of Columbus hall in Sprinfield, across from the Red Lobster on Baltimore Pike.
"You just missed it," says Springfield GOP leader Mike Puppio.
Two vans, one with Illinois plate and one with a Maryland plate, full of some 15 or so political volunteers, just left after asking, "Is this the Lentz staging area?"
Puppio says, he told the group, "No, it's not," and offered to direct them to where they wanted to go if they could give him an address. The leader of the group made a phone call and said they were looking for 19 Baltimore Pike.
"This is 18," Puppio offered, "I would assume 19 would be across the street."
After using the restroom there, ("They must have had a long drive," says Puppio) they drove off, with Puppio smiling to himself.
Bussing in a bunch of people from out of the area to come and "knock on doors and drag people to the polls" is hardly ever a very "effective campaign technique," Puppio tells me.
I ask him how turnout is and he says it's "very active," about twice a normal midterm election.
I report David Landau's trash talk about how the county GOP organization just ain't what it used to be. Puppio doesn't bite.
"I disagree with that," he says simply. "I haven't seen a congressional race with a more organized and detailed get out the vote effort."
As for the Democrats' efforts, Puppio waves his hand at the entrance to his polling place. No Democratic poll workers here. In 2006 and 2008, there were.
Puppio greets voters, most by their first names. Asks about their kids, wives, all that sort of thing. Retail politics.
"Knowing your people. Knowing your friends and neighbors," says Puppio, that's what works.
A gray haired lady walks up, Puppio offers her a Republican sample ballot. She waves it away politely. She knows who she's voting for and points out that she hardly ever votes "straight party." Turns out she is Brian Kendro's aunt, who as it happens is Pat Meehan's campaign manager. And... she's a Democrat. She and Puppio chat.
Yesterday, Puppio told me that he expects there will be a good number of Delaware County voters who will split their ballots to vote Meehan for Congress and Sestak for Senate.
This voter appears to be one of them. She doesn't want her name in the paper (or on Spencerblog) but she's a yakker. Her father grew up in Albania, came here when he was 20. He never stopped reminding his children, "This is the best country in the world."
His daughter would like to see it become more like England, at least where political campaigns are concerned. No campaigning until 6 months out from the election and that there should be a "limit on money," she says.
Puppio plays along. Panderingly, he doesn't disagree. I don't roll that way.
"You don't think much of the First Amendment, do you?" I scold the nice, gray-haired lady.
I tell her allowing the government to make and enforce rules about when campaigns can begin, how much can be spent and who can do the talking and when is a bad idea. The British don't have a First Amendment. They also don't have open primaries in which the candidates handpicked by party leaders can be openly challenged.
This nice lady says not allowing either party to campaign until six months before the election would be "fair" to both parites.
"I didn't say it wasn't fair. I say it's unconstitutional."
And on that note, I take my leave. I cross the street, hoping to find the vans from Illinois and Maryland in the parking lot behind the Red Lobster. They aren't there.