Former Gov. Winfield Dunn recalls his first Republican convention and introducing himself to a famous fellow that everybody else was ignoring at the time, namely 1968, in a Tennessean setup story on the GOP convention.
“It was Thomas Dewey,” said Dunn, now 85. “So I had an opportunity to meet and visit with him. That was very exciting for me.”
Brushes with history make up some of the appeal for more than 200 Tennesseans who will attend either this week’s GOP conclave in Tampa, Fla., or next week’s Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C.
Add to those the opportunities to lobby, socialize and party with some of the nation’s top political leaders, and the conventions become more than just quadrennial pep rallies before the November presidential election.
“High energy,” said state Rep. Ryan Haynes. “If you’re not in politics, a lot of people say, ‘Political convention? Turn on CSPAN and put me to sleep.’ But it really is high energy.”
Tennessee Delegation Plans
From the News Sentinel: The Tennessee delegation will hold a breakfast each morning. U.S. Sen. Bob Corker, a Chattanooga Republican who is running for a second six-year term, will hold a pre-convention fundraiser Sunday night at the St. Petersburg Yacht Club. The cost to attend the Corker event is $1,000 for political-action committees or $500 for individuals.
Other extracurricular activities — many of which are invitation-only — are open to delegates and include a gun show in nearby Plant City, with concealed weapons training courses; a tribute to the South, featuring a performance by the rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd; several documentary screenings; panel discussions on everything from energy policy to financial “literacy”; and enough briefings, brunches, receptions and parties to wear out even the most energetic convention-goer.
“I was looking at the schedule, and I was, ‘Oh, my goodness! I’m going to be very tired at the end of the week,'” said Susan Mills, a delegate from Maryville. “I’m going to need a vacation after that.”
A Florida Perspective on TN Delegation
From the Tampa Bay Times: During the convention in Tampa next week, nearly 250 delegates from Tennessee will be staying at the historic Safety Harbor Resort & Spa.
So the city will temporarily give Main Street a new name: Tennessee Street.
A proclamation in honor of the Volunteer State will be read. Welcome banners will be hoisted. And there will be live music at the downtown gazebo from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.
But part of their focus is on what happens once the delegation leaves the Tampa Bay area.
“There are going to be some 250 Tennessee delegates who may have never stepped foot in Safety Harbor,” City Manager Matthew Spoor said. “When they get back to Tennessee, we want them to tell all their friends and family about our city. We want repeat customers. We want the city to shine. We are the jewel of Tampa Bay and we want to show that off.”
The mayor plans to hand the delegation a symbolic key to the city. In welcome bags waiting in delegates’ hotel rooms, the Safety Harbor Chamber of Commerce will include a pin in the shape of a key. Delegates sporting the pin will receive specials from about 25 participating Main Street merchants, said chamber board chair Marie Padavich.
When it came to matching up state delegations to hotel locations, Padavich said, Safety Harbor came out a winner.
“We are thrilled to have Tennessee,” Padavich said, in part because they hail from the eastern half of the United States, so “it would be a natural for them to come back and visit us once the convention is over.”
Some businesses are looking for ways to capitalize on the delegates’ presence. For example, during the convention week, wine bar and beer garden Tapping the Vine will open Sunday and Monday — days when the business is usually closed, said owner Howard Latham.
The Sen. at the Conven
In his first blog post from the Republican National Convention, Sen. Stacey Campfield reports that hurricane Isaac wasn’t that bad and wonders if a Ron Paul rally could inspire an overreaction from party powers.
Two Tennesseans Have Convention Roles
News release from State Republican Party:
TAMPA, FL – The Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus recommended two Tennesseans to serve as officers for the Republican National Convention.
The recommendations include RNC National Committeeman John Ryder to serve as an Assistant Parliamentarian of the Convention and State Executive Committee Member Lance Frizzell to serve as a Tally Clerk of the Convention.
Tennessee Republican Party Chairman Chris Devaney issued the following statement:
“I was pleased to hear that John and Lance will be serving in these crucial roles at the Republican National Convention next week. The state of Tennessee and the State Republican Party should be proud that we will be well represented on the national stage.”
The Republican National Convention begins Monday, August 27th and concludes Thursday, August 30th.