If you were planning the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, where would you place the delegates from the District of Columbia? How would they look on the national stage?
You have a city council chairman who decided to resign rather than face bank fraud charges. And a city council member serving jail time for stealing $350,000 in public funds meant to help poor kids. And a mayor whose campaign is under investigation for a variety of misdeeds, from paying off another candidate to harass the incumbent to running a “shadow campaign” with upward of $600,000 off the books.
And you have Marion Barry. The former mayor and current council member took to the microphone Monday before the convention even began to tell the Daily Caller that President Obama has “not done everything I wanted him to do, but he’s done more than anyone else has done.”
Not quite a rousing endorsement.
Would you headquarter the DC delegates in downtown Charlotte?
“They put us at the Hilton Garden Inn in Concord,” a delegate says. “We’re 20 miles from downtown Charlotte. There’s nothing out here. The closest restaurant is a Waffle House, and it’s a walk.”
Every morning the DC delegation, which numbers around 36, holds a breakfast and invites a guest speaker. Jesse Jackson was teed up for Tuesday.
“He didn’t show,” a delegate reports. “Too far away.”
Once the delegates make it to Charlotte, where do they sit in the convention hall?
“They put us as far from the podium as possible,” says another delegate. “Call it the nosebleed of the nosebleed section. Our backs are against the wall.”
Planners have a political rationale for stashing DC’s delegates. The District is the opposite of a battleground state. It’s as blue as any voting district in the nation. It’s in the bag. There are no swing voters or independents to impress. Delegations from Kansas, Ohio, and Pennsylvania get the front-row seats and the downtown hotels.
Maryland, another blue state, is in Concord, as well.
On Wednesday night, DC mayor Vincent Gray will rise to pledge the District’s 17 votes for Barack Obama. He might have a few lines for the occasion. Perhaps he will make a pitch for DC statehood, which didn’t make it into the platform. Perhaps we will see him and hear what he has to say—provided the cameras have long lenses for the back rows.