All of it was for Eric Kingson, a 70-year-old professor at Syracuse University who decided last year that the 24th Congressional District, which Republicans captured in 2014, could use his expertise in Social Security. The soft-spoken Kingson was passed over by most D.C.-based endorsers, including the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, but he got onto the ballot with help from veterans of the Sanders campaign, and learned on Wednesday night that the senator would rally for him ahead of the June 28 primary.
Inside the OnCenter, Sanders fans were encouraged to sign up for weekend shifts to get out the vote for Kingson. Many had driven in from neighboring towns; some, like a group that had carpooled from Rochester, swore to help out anyway. By the start of the event, 500 people had filed in, just 10 percent of the crowd Sanders had drawn here in April but large for a House candidate.
Kingson, who had walked through the crowd unnoticed just hours before, told supporters he was "awed" by the turnout, and promised to bring "new blood" to Washington "to work with old blood like Senator Sanders."
"I believe he's done more in his campaign than many presidents have done in four-year terms," said Kingson.
At the end of his 10-minute speech, Kingson piled superlative on superlative for Sanders. "The American people's senator, the American people's candidate for president -- Bernie Sanders, an amazing American, and one of my..."
Applause drowned him out, after some supporters saw Sanders's white mop of hair. Kingson shook his hand, then walked offstage, only for Sanders to pull him back up for the cameras. Over just 24 minutes, one-quarter the length of the speech Sanders had given in New York City on Tuesday, Sanders alternated between his stump speech and praise for Kingson. It would take "just 7,000 or 8,000 votes" to get him past the primary, he said.
"After Eric wins he can maybe work on making the system a little more open," said Sanders. "Maybe we can work on ending closed primaries in New York. Maybe we can work hard, in this great state, that has the lowest voter turnout in the United States of America. Something doesn't add up, and what doesn't add up is that the establishment doesn't want people to vote."
Supporters, for whom memories of the Democrats-only presidential primary were still raw, began to boo.
"So let's give 'em a heart attack on Tuesday, and show up to vote!" said Sanders.