MYRTLE BEACH — The three Grand Strand Democrats headed to Charlotte this week to be delegates in that party’s nominating convention have all attended national party conventions before.
Cedric Spain of Conway was a guest at the 2008 convention in Denver, Susan Smith of Litchfield was a delegate then and Sally Howard of Myrtle Beach will be attending her eighth convention – the fourth as a delegate – during the three-day run in the Queen City.
For Smith and Howard, the trip will also be a kind of homecoming as well. Both were born in Concord, N.C., which is about 20 miles northeast of Charlotte.
As with the Republican convention last week, the biggest business of the Democratic convention, the nomination of its presidential candidate, is a foregone conclusion. But also like area Republican delegates in Tampa, the Democrats headed to Charlotte are anticipating lots of camaraderie, good speechmaking and a positive jolt of energy to carry them to November.
“It was (in ’08) and will be a very heavy experience,” Smith said.
Smith and Spain are looking forward to getting together with fellow Democrats from around the country.
Spain expects South Carolina’s delegates will get tips from other areas on how to help the state’s Democratic candidates win elections. He’s optimistic it will happen, too, because many South Carolinians used to be loyal Democrats but the turned Republican. He thinks they can be lured back into the fold.
But he has a problem with former union members who have moved to the area and taken up the Republican banner.
“The union should deny them their funds,” he said.
He thought about that statement for a minute and wanted to amend it. It would sound better, he said, if he changed it to say that people who benefited from unions should continue to support the same issues as unions do.
“I don’t regret what I said,” he said. “I’m just trying to make it appealing.”
Howard said national political conventions continue to be exciting despite her numerous trips to them. Each has its own character, usually dictated by the city in which it are held.
“To me Charlotte is very special because that’s my hometown area,” she said.
Howard noted that the Democratic Party will shorten the convention to three rather than four nights for the first time this year. The first night, delegates will hear and vote on committee reports and then vote on the nominations the second night. On the third night, the convention will move to an outdoor stadium for President Obama’s acceptance speech.
Howard and Smith said Democrats can expect a bump of popularity after Obama’s speech, and Howard noted that voters will tend to remember it more than what happened at the Republican convention the week before.
Smith said that the Democratic platform will include support of marriage equality (gay marriage) and through that and other platform positions will demonstrate that it is an inclusive party.
“I really believe the Democratic Party is the people’s party,” Smith said.
Smith said she grew up a Republican, but a series of events caused to her to switch allegiance in 1986. Her first presidential election as a Democrat was in 1988.
“I’m looking forward to the parties,” Smith said of the week ahead. “I’m looking forward to the caucuses. I’m looking forward to a lot of things.”
Contact STEVE JONES at 444-1765.