Idaho gave Barack Obama the largest margin of victory of any caucus or primaries—80 percent. From Obama himself to numerous national media, Idaho was credited as the quintessential example of how he outsmarted his opponents and swept to victory: organize in every state and bear down on the caucuses.
Idaho provided Obama with a larger margin of victory than Ohio or Pennsylvania gave Hillary Clinton.
Is that why the Idaho delegation was seated right below and to the left of the podium? Well, if so, that distinction is no more.
On Sunday, Delaware was given Idaho’s prized position and the spud state sent into the rafters. Joe Biden is “the next vice president of the United States,” that’s why. If he’d chosen Evan Bayh, it would be the Indiana delegation — with which Idaho and Guam share a hotel 30 minutes south of the convention site — that might have been given new digs.
Idaho delegates seemed not the least disturbed by this Sunday. Many were dancing the early night away at a splashy party thrown by the Louisiana Delegation at the Colorado Convention Center to highlight the transformation taking place in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina.
While private parties features celebrities galore all over town, the New Orleans party was the place to be for a couple thousand folks. Creole cooking was represented by gumbo consisting of beans and rice, crayfish, shrimp and a gumbo consisting, it seemed, entirely of seafood. Plus a 20 ounce beer labeled specially for the occasion by the California company that makes Full Moon beer..
“I thought I was coming to a lecture,” said delegate Justin Stormogibson of Coeur d’Alene who seemed to be serving as official photographer. The lecture part consisted of one table handing out literature about initiatives that are transforming the city (it is, for example, flush with chartered and alternative schools that is making it one of the great educational experiments in the country, according to the New York Times Sunday Magazine.
A core band of 12 plus a succession of singers and keyboardist that included, at one time, Randy Newman, happily drowned out all conversation. Howard Dean made a guest appearance, as did the convention’s organizer, a minister, and the evening ended with The Saints…what else?
If there’s one thing this convention has in good supply it is impressive black women. Elizabeth from Los Angeles, whom I met in the Salt Lake Airport, wasted no time telling me that, as a new member of the Democratic National Committee (as of Friday I’ll be Idaho’s national committeeman and a delegate to the DNC) it was my duty to toss out Howard Dean as chairman. The failure to fully seat Florida and Michigan was his fault, said this Hillary delegate.
This is my first Democratic convention and it’s the summation of six months of political commitment I thought I’d left behind after twice losing the race for governor.
I’m back “in” because of Obama. My wife Rickie and I committed to him early in December, worked his Boise rally and the Idaho caucus hard and campaigned in Nevada, Ohio, Arizona and Oregon.
For me, this is the most important presidential race since l960 when I couldn’t bring my Republican heart to vote for Richard Nixon and cast my first vote for a Democrat. My abiding belief that Obama is best suited to reverse the disasterous fall in America’s standing and effectiveness in the world thanks to Bush-Cheney.
The choice of Biden for vice president couples the charisma Obama exhibited in Europe, Iraq and the Middle East with the serious experience of a 30-year foreign policy veteran.
The national media have upped the ante for this convention. A few months back, many of us looked forward to it as a romp, a reward, a prelude to victory. Obviously the race has tightened. Yet I don’t sense that delegates share my apprehensions.
“It will be very close,” said a California congressman told me on the way in way in from the airport.
This is also my first time blogging and an odd blogger I am, too. An insider, a former candidate and yet a journalist currently acting as publisher of the weekly Wood River Journal in Hailey and president of the Post Company in Idaho Falls. I’m figuring it out as I go.
Bloggers are themselves news at this convention. The New York Times ran a section-front story about The Big Tent, where bloggers will congregate—but only 400 certified major voices will be admitted. A privileged entry place within a privileged entry place, the convention itself.
The DNC selects one blog for each state, a big deal in blogosphere, for special entry and credentials. For Idaho that choice was 43rd State Blues out of Pocatello.
More about that and a whole bunch more later.
Jerry Brady was the Democratic candidate for governor in the last two cycles and has headed the family and employee-owned Post Register in Idaho Falls for the last 20 years. He also serves as publisher of the weekly Wood River Journal in Hailey.