BELLINGHAM The city’s liberal cognoscenti — and one conservative — gathered at New York Pizza Bar and Grill on State Street Thursday, May 21, to eulogize The Political Junkie, the Whatcom blog that had a five-year run under Riley Sweeney.
Sweeney, who wore a name tag at the send-off that said “The Political Junkie, 2010-2015,” is having his first day on Friday, May 22, at his new job as communications officer for the city of Ferndale. Being that Sweeney is now in politics, he decided he could no longer write about politics.
Longtime political blogger John Servais, who runs NW Citizen, helped organize the surprise party, which took over the back half of the restaurant. He toasted/roasted Sweeney, saying something about him going to the dark side. (Ferndale, a small town with mostly conservative values in City Hall, has a knack for hiring away the area’s most influential political writers.)
I didn’t have my notebook on me (I had to reassure a local candidate in the room that everything said in conversation would be “off the record”), but Servais roughly described Sweeney’s blog as a combination of incisive and humorous/friendly. His blog was written in such a way that you couldn’t help but like Sweeney, even if he was skewering you. (I didn’t call Doug Ericksen to confirm this sentiment.)
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The Political Junkie has been dark for less than two weeks, but as I told Sweeney, I already miss it. Some people at the party pressed him for some observations and predictions.
What’s his take on Joy Gilfilen, who jumped into the fray by filing to challenge county Executive Jack Louws for his seat?
She’s “the Bernie Sanders to Jack Louws’ Hillary Clinton,” Sweeney said. With Gilfilen taking principled stands on issues such as incarceration rates and the new county jail, Louws will have to make definitive statements about his positions during the campaign too, Sweeney observed.
The Gilfilen-Sanders analogy was just one more gem, offered up impromptu, even though Sweeney doesn’t have to blog anymore. One gets the sense that those political wheels inside Sweeney’s head are still turning out pithy observations, unbidden.
It’s a shame he won’t get to share them with us, at least not in published form. Fortunately, we can still chat Sweeney up whenever we run into him.
Like he said when that name tag was stuck to his shirt: “I’m not dead!”