Thursday, Feb. 7, 2008

Local leaders to attend presidential conventions

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State Del. Sue Hecht has been a delegate to the Democratic National Convention in three previous presidential elections.

Hecht (D-Dist. 3A) of Frederick hopes on Tuesday that Frederick County voters will help send her to a fourth.

This time, the Democrats will meet in Denver, Colo., from Aug. 25-28. Hecht is committed to vote for the Democratic presidential nomination of Sen. Hillary Clinton.

‘‘I was fortunate to have gone before,” Hecht said. ‘‘It’s fascinating to see the crazy mobs. You get to listen to the candidates and talk to other national leaders.”

A who’s who of local politicians is running for convention delegate spots for both Republican and Democratic presidential candidates.

Hecht’s first stint was as a delegate for Clinton’s husband, President Bill Clinton. Hecht went again as a delegate for Vice President Al Gore and as vice chair of the Maryland Democratic Party, Hecht automatically attended as a ‘‘super delegate” for Sen. John Kerry.

Hecht is confident she will go for a forth time, and said she is also confident her delegate vote will help send Clinton to the White House.

‘‘I think she has demonstrated her integrity, her smartness and her unique experience,” Hecht said.

Philip Green, a member of the Frederick County Republican Central Committee, hopes Republican Sen. John McCain will be his party’s nominee.

Green is running as a delegate promised to McCain. He hopes to attend the Republican National Convention Sept. 1-4, in Minneapolis. This would be Green’s first time at a convention.

‘‘I’ve been involved in helping McCain since July, when he was at his all-time low [in poll numbers,” Green said. ‘‘I believed in who he was — his [military] background, his integrity and accountability. If you look at his record he is a true conservative.”

Green said he applied with President George Bush’s (R) campaign to run as a delegate for the 2004 Republican National Convention, but was passed up. This time the McCain camp took him on.

‘‘You have to be endorsed [by the campaign],” Green said. ‘‘They have to know you and they have to know you will be loyal to the candidate ... You actually have to get endorsed.”

Green said he met with the McCain campaign and attended many events.

‘‘When this guy needed help and there wasn’t a clear frontrunner ... I met him and this guy is the real deal,” he said. ‘‘For me, he embodies all the things I thought a good president should be when I was young.”

For potential delegates who did not declare allegiance to a particular candidate, the chances are slim they will go to a convention.

‘‘If the individual runs as uncommitted, in a practical sense they’ve gone through the motions to no end,” said David Paulson, communications director with the Maryland Democratic Party.

Frederick city Alderman Marcia A. Hall (D) is not supporting one particular Democratic candidate, because she likes them all.

‘‘I didn’t declare, mostly because I’m so happy with the field of candidates,” she said. ‘‘I felt strong about [John] Edwards, [Barrack] Obama and Clinton. All three are definitely good. I wouldn’t be disappointed with one of the three rising to the top.”

The fact that Hall is running uncommitted could hurt her chances, Paulson said.

Hall is aware she may not be picked to go to the convention.

‘‘I’ve always wanted to be there,” she said, ‘‘but I might not be the final delegate. Just because I’m on the ballot does not necessarily mean I will go. The state [Democratic party] decides who will get to go.”

With Rudy Giuliani out of the race, the chance of Del. Richard B. Weldon Jr. (R-Dist. 3B) attending the Republican National Convention in September is also fading.

‘‘I’m still hopeful that Republicans vote for me, even though the candidate to whom I was affiliated is no longer in the race,” Weldon said in an e-mail. ‘‘... I’m hoping 6th District candidates will see my commitment to common sense government and send me to the GOP convention as a delegate.”

How does someone become a delegate?

Source: The Maryland Democratic Party and the Maryland Republican Party.