Vermont delegation to DNC on the go from early morning to late night

Delegate Andrew Champagne and Vermont Democratic Party Chair Jake Perkinson at the DNC in Charlotte, N.C. Photo courtesy Vermont Democratic Party.

It was early to rise and late to bed for the 29 Vermont delegates who attended the four-day Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C.

By day the delegates went to “work” — listening to speakers, attending talks trainings and workshops from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Then more speeches, with high-profile speakers like Bill Clinton and Michelle Obama hitting the stage until 11 p.m. or later.

Then come the after-parties until 2 a.m. Delegate Martha Allen, the president of the Vermont NEA, said many social receptions were packed “shoulder-to-shoulder,” and she said she’d paid for only two meals during the convention.

At the receptions, she said, in spite of convention fatigue, “everyone’s in a good mood.” She continued: “It’s an opportunity to have a conversation you might not have during your regular workday,” with otherwise inaccessible elected officials of varying prominence.

Allen advocates for union and education causes while meeting and greeting, hosting events with the American Federation of Teachers and the Democratic Governors Association.

House Speaker Shap Smith, another delegate, said he discusses legislative and political strategies with lawmakers in other states, on topics like transportation funds and health care exchanges.

For Smith, who is a first-timer at the DNC, one substantive outcome of the convention is an “understanding of what we’re going to do over the next four years, if we re-elect President Obama – I do think that’s helpful and substantive.”

Vermont delegation

Vermont delegates to the Democratic National Convention volunteer on a house-building project. Photo courtesy Vermont Democratic Party.

Delegates said they spent more time on pure networking, and little on fundraising. Some of the Vermont delegation also volunteered. They helped to finish a house that was half built at the Republican National Convention in Tampa. The finished product is donated to a veteran.

None of the Vermont delegates had much to say about the party platform, despite a minor controversy over whether God should be included in the document, or whether Jerusalem should be described as the capital of Israel. Ariel Wengroff, the VDP communications director, explained that the “Democratic platform embraces marriage equality, energy efficiency and health care reform.”

Jake Perkinson, chair of the Vermont Democratic Party, however, criticized the GOP platform, arguing that Republicans last week had merely cobbled together extreme and disparate views, which many Republicans ran away from, while the Democratic platform consisted of a “consistent, unified document.”

Perkinson said the highlights of the convention included spending time with the Vermont delegation, many of whom he praised as “really fantastic human beings,” and listening to speeches from Michelle Obama and Bill Clinton which were “out of this world.”

Congressman Peter Welch said Clinton’s speech reminded him of “why Democrats are focusing on the middle class and co-operation.”

Thursday afternoon, as pop star Marc Anthony sang in the background, Allen said she wanted Obama to talk about how to take political action and overcome obstacles; she hoped to his speech would top his 2012 state of the union address.

According to the official DNC website, there are an estimated 35,000 visitors and 6,000 delegates at the convention.

A list of the Vermont delegates attending in 2012 is here. This year, the Vermont delegates sat near Georgia, Alaska and Kansas.

See VTDigger’s coverage of the Republican National Convention, and a handy fact-checking list compiled by USA Today on claims made during the DNC’s opening night.

VDP Chair Jake Perkinson and Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger at the Democratic National Convention. Photo courtesy Vermont Democratic Party.

Nat Rudarakanchana

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