Gubernatorial candidate Steve Grossman was on the floor of the DCU Center in Worcester on Saturday afternoon — preparing to cast his vote as a convention delegate — when the news arrived.
“All of a sudden, we get a message from [my son] Ben,” he said. “ ‘Jack Walker Grossman, born 3:19.’ ”
For the fifth time, Grossman was a grandfather.
“I got to tell you, several people reached for Kleenexes for me simultaneously because I needed a big hunk,” he said.
Grossman was standing alongside State Representative Kay Khan, a Newton Democrat whose husband Nasir died suddenly after a game of squash a couple of months ago. He would have been 75 on Saturday.
Grossman’s wife, Barbara, told Khan it was almost as if the Grossmans had created a life to replace the one she had lost. The three hugged. It was, Grossman said, an emotional moment.
“Let me put it this way,” Grossman said. “This will be a memorable day for a whole lot of reasons, of which the top reason is a little baby was born to hopefully become a great Democratic organizer some day.”
This was the first convention for Jimmy Cawley and Elisa Birdseye, but their seats way up in the nosebleed section cut them out of much of the action. Candidates didn’t canvass the rows at the top of the Worcester DCU Center, and giant speakers blocked their view of two Jumbotrons.
Still, the couple from Hyde Park said they got their face time with candidates Friday.
“But not up here,” Birdseye said.
“Down in the tiers,” her husband chimed in.
And despite their awful seats, the couple said they were having an awesome time. They had already decided to back Don Berwick for governor. Besides, Cawley said, he is no nosebleed-newbie.
“I’ve been in these seats at a rock concert, the Grateful Dead. The stage was right over there,” he said, pointing way down to the convention floor.
That was nearly 30 years ago.
He also had one more observation on the difference between concerts and the convention.
“I go to lots of rock concerts, and even they’re not as chaotic as this,” he said. “But, now that it’s calmed down, it’s like every other dog-and-pony show.”
Yes, there was the fight to get on the primary ballot and the tussle for the party’s official nomination.
But the most colorful battle Saturday was the battle of the buttons.
Maura Healey, candidate for attorney general, went round. And orange. Look closely, and you could see the backdrop was a basketball — a nod to Healey’s two-year career as starting point guard for UBBC Wustenrot Salzburg, a professional basketball team in Austria.
Healey’s competition, former state senator Warren Tolman, went with something more straightforward — a talisman of a veteran politician. “Democrat Warren Tolman — Attorney General” the button read, in shades of dark and light blue.
Tolman seemed to telegraph his deep support from labor. The this-button-was-made-by-a-union tag on the bottom — de rigueur for Democrats — was particularly prominent.
Exclamation points were in vogue. “Go Barry!,” said the button for Barry Finegold, candidate for treasurer.
The current treasurer, Steve Grossman, was hoping a little poetry could make him governor. “Believe in Steve,” his button said. The frontrunner in the race was keeping it simple. “Martha Coakley,” her button read, “for Governor.”
for Steve Grossman
Chatting with fellow members of the delegation from the Second Suffolk district, Joao DePina, whose brother was felled by gun violence in Boston last week, cut the conversation short and eyed a volunteer from Steve Grossman’s gubernatorial campaign.
“What are you giving out?” DePina asked.
“Towels,” responded Will Rasky, a Grossman volunteer and delegate from Jamaica Plain. In his arms were a stack of small, bright orange towels, a navy blue star in the background, and Grossman’s name emblazoned across the front in white letters.
“What about ice cream?” chimed in Daniel E. Janey, who lives in Roxbury.
“That’s after you endorse,” Rasky quipped.
Grossman’s love of ice cream is well known on the campaign trail — so much so, that when he was asked recently at the Globe Opinion debate what he’d choose as an official state snack as governor, Grossman said: ice cream.
Janey said he was already leaning strongly toward Grossman before the towel, despite a friend’s hard sell for Don Berwick. He said he had met Grossman previously in his role as state treasurer, but what sealed the deal was a recent five-minute conversation about . . . ice cream.
It was noon, and Democrat Deb Goldberg was on stage at the DCU Center, making her pitch for state treasurer. Where was gubernatorial candidate Don Berwick? Across the street at Uno Pizzeria, shaking hands and talking to uncommitted delegates. Actually, he was also talking to a few who appeared committed.
“Good to meet you,” he said, walking up to people finishing their lunches.
“Smart for you to come here,” said one diner, seated with two friends. “Someone gave you good advice. Try to convince me. Go ’head.”
Berwick immediately started his 30-second elevator speech: Eradicating poverty is central to his campaign, as is a single-payer health care system, also called Medicare for all.
There were 13 more minutes of handshakes. Thirteen more minutes of elevator pitches.
Then, it was back across the street.
More handshaking. More pitches.
Moving at a quick clip, he crossed the exhibit hall.
“This young man just came to ask you about you,” a campaign volunteer said, as Berwick swung by his campaign table in the exhibit hall.
Twenty-seven-year-old Jason Wright was standing there curious, and Berwick stopped. They exchanged salutations. And Berwick told the Milton resident: “I’m the most progressive candidate in the race. I’m for single-payer health care; I’m against the casino.”
Berwick stopped momentarily to watch Maura Healey’s speech. He wanted to hear just a few. As he listened, his wife, Ann Berwick, approached. He grabbed her arm. She leaned into him. And for a moment, they stood still together.
Then, he was on the move again.