Believing in President Obama
Tennessee delegates to the Democratic National Convention are supportive of President Obama despite what pollsters describe as an “enthusiasm gap” between Democrats and Republicans this year, reports Michael Collins in a setup story on the state’s representatives to the Charlotte gathering.
“It’s really fascinating,” Gloria Johnson, a delegate from Knoxville, said of the convention experience. “You’re sitting there, and there is George Stephanopoulos four seats down. There are all these people there, and nobody cares. We are all there to nominate the person we want to be president.”
Four years ago, Johnson attended her first political convention. She had never been involved in a political party or politics, yet she was so inspired by Obama that she became politically active. Now, she’s chairwoman of the Knox County Democratic Party and a candidate for the state House of Representatives.
Like Dayton and other Obama believers, Johnson was convinced four years ago that as president he would bring about much-needed changes. In her view, he has.
He got health care reform passed, ended the “don’t ask don’t tell” ban on gays serving openly in the msitary, signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act into law and offered a stimulus package that created millions of private sector jobs, Johnson said
Ashley Judd: Star of the TN Show
Entertainer Ashley Judd, a Tennessee delegate to the convention, tells the Tennessean she’s a dedicated activist.
“I’ve been a Democrat for a very long time,” Judd said. “Family lore says that my beloved great-aunt, Pauline, who lived on a farm in Lawrence County in Eastern Kentucky, named all her dogs after Democrats.”
This week Judd, a famous actress, activist and Williamson County resident, is taking her partisanship to a new level as a delegate to the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C. She’s an at-large member of the Tennessee delegation and a campaign surrogate for President Barack Obama, speaking to supporters on his behalf.
And she says her ties to the party run even deeper than those born of family lore.
“The party platform is one of a social justice gospel and faith. It became my party based on a sense of equality and fairness, hard work and advocating for people living at and below the poverty line and helping them strive toward our fabled middle class.”
Clayton Takes a Swat at the Chair
While party unity is a theme at the Democratic convention, Michael Cass reports that disavowed U.S. Senate nominee, Mark Clayton, wasn’t on board, providing a pre-convention parting shot at Tennessee’s party chairman.
Clayton released a lengthy statement Friday that attacked Forrester (without ever daring to mention his name) and the party for supporting gay marriage, saying that stance puts the Democratic establishment out of step with most voters.
“The current TNDP chairman and staff are finding themselves politically isolated and left to represent, with taxpayer funds, the fringe of anti-family, anti-constitution zero-sum politics in Tennessee all the while making President Obama look like a far right-winger by comparison to themselves,” the statement said.
“Mark Clayton always got along fine with previous TNDP chairmen. But in contrast, the current TNDP chairman and his staff who despise Mark do not represent mainstream Democrats in Tennessee and are far to the fringe and far away from even President Obama’s comparatively conservative view on the Constitution and marriage issues.”
The Memphis Mood
Bart Sullivan has commentary from West Tennessee delegates to the convention:
City of Memphis police legal adviser and lawyer Zayid Saleem will be attending his first convention after being elected to the Shelby County Democratic Executive Committee. Saleem said he recognizes that Tennessee has gone for the Republican presidential candidate the last two cycles but “we still need to motivate people to get out (to vote) across the state. You never know what will happen.”
Seeing Obama at the 73,778-seat Bank of America Stadium Thursday night will be a highlight, he said. “It’s historic to actually be a part of the process.”
Kelly Jacobs of Hernando is driving her bronze Prius — decked out with re-elect Obama signs and Christmas lights — to the convention, her third after former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean’s run got her charged up in 2004.
While she’s excited to be among other Obama-Biden supporters, she’s disappointed at the decision not to let Dean or Obama’s chief rival in 2008, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, make podium speeches. She also said she had a pile of invitations five inches high by this time four and eight years ago, but now invitations come by e-mail and she wonders if elderly delegates who don’t use computers will miss out.