Supposedly the big news out of last weekend’s Democratic Party of Virginia Convention was Mark Warner’s unqualified statement that he’s out of the race for VP. I didn’t consider it news; after all, he said essentially that on a press conference call last Monday. Either the press at the convention didn’t hear it or they weren’t on the call 😉
I managed to get a few minutes with Senator Jim Webb prior to his speech and asked him the same question. Unless I completely misunderstood him, Webb also said that he wasn’t interested in being VP. (I did ask twice, by the way.) Unfortunately, I didn’t get his exact words.
I went to the convention with one thing in mind: getting elected as an at-large delegate to the convention. As the result, I didn’t spend a whole lot of time inside listening to the speeches. I’m told that most of the speeches were quite good; in particular, several people commented on how well 2nd District candidate Glenn Nye spoke. The convention itself was long – way too long in my humble opinion. And, believe it or not, there was no lunch break! Folks literally had to miss parts of the speeches in order to grab a bite to eat. With all of the facilities around the Hampton Convention Center (located adjacent to the Hampton Coliseum), it was a shame that the only alternative was an overpriced ($15!) lunch in the room next to the exhibit hall.
The convention kicked off a little after 10am and it wasn’t until nearly 4pm that we broke up into our separate – Clinton and Obama – caucuses to elect our PLEO (which stands for Party Leaders and Elected Officials) and at-large delegates. Nearly six hours – and the real work was yet to be done. Several people that I saw earlier in the day had left by that time, which was a real shame.
Because the caucus voting took so long (I understand the Obama caucus tallying took about 4 hours), we never did come back together as a group. Another disappointment.
While we were in our caucus, it became quite clear that with the large number of first-time attendees, it would have been useful to have had some things explained. For example, people seemed to not understand the situation with the slate and how the slate had been chosen. What was happening around me was people were asking that question as we were voting. My guess is that part of this had to do with timing – the deadline for filing the slate was Wednesday at 5pm, leaving little time for the information to be public or for others to organize a competing slate. The members of the DNC slate sent out a couple of emails with the bios and photos of each member, but even those came late last week. I’d like to see the deadline for filing slates moved up a bit, giving not only the slate members time to campaign, but also giving others who are not on the slate the same opportunity. I don’t recall exactly when the list of delegates to the convention made it to the DPVA website but I know that I only received a couple of emails from folks who were running who were not on the slate.
I will say that tensions were running a little high by the time we got to the caucuses and I attribute a lot of this to the six hours of stuff that took place before. I got a chance to talk to DPVA executive director Levar Stoney about this while waiting for the caucus results. As it turns out, Levar never made it to bed Friday night, so I doubt if he remembers anything I said to him. Here’s what I told him that I think would make the convention more enjoyable for newcomers and old timers alike.
First, take the first couple of hours of the convention to do a little business and hear a few speeches. Then break for lunch for an hour. After that, convene the caucuses. After the voting is complete, reconvene the entire convention for more speeches. This would also be the time to elect the DNC members and the electors. While those are taking place, count the votes. Once the counting is completed, announce the results, have a final unifying speech, and then let the partying begin. If it can’t be done in a single day, start Friday evening with some of the procedural stuff.
Oh yeah – and get a better sound system 😉
I know the DPVA staff worked very hard to make this convention as enjoyable as possible. It was a difficult task and my hat’s off to them for having gotten it done. It was good to see a lot of folks from around the state – I’m not about to start naming them because I’ll no doubt leave somebody off the list. Congrats to all who were elected yesterday, condolences to those who didn’t make it this time.