WASHINGTON – Three-time Republican National Convention delegate Audrey Scott remembers the anticipation of watching President Bush and then-Sen. Dan Quayle alight a riverboat on the Mississippi River in New Orleans in 1988.
“Quayle was standing with his wife 2 feet away from me and I looked over and thought: `I wonder why they’re here?’ ” said Scott, a Prince George’s County councilwoman and former mayor of Bowie. “Then it dawned on me. He was the vice presidential nominee.”
Scott and 289 other national convention delegate hopefuls from Maryland are vying for the chance to participate in this year’s excitement of selecting presidential and vice-presidential candidates. Eighty-seven will be selected from among the Democrats; 32 from among the Republicans.
Both the Democratic convention in Chicago and the Republican convention in San Diego will be held in August.
The Democratic convention promises little drama.
“At this point, I think it’s safe to say that 99 percent are committed to the president,” said state Democratic Party spokesman David Paulson.
But the GOP delegates can look forward to a suspenseful convention if no clear winner emerges from the nation’s primaries, said Chris West, executive director of the Maryland Republican Party.
“Things could go beyond the first ballot,” he said.
Twenty-four of the Maryland Republican delegates will be elected in Tuesday’s primary. The other eight will be chosen in May by the Maryland Republican State Central Committee.
Forty-four of the Maryland Democratic delegates will be elected during the March 5 primary. The others will be chosen in May by the state’s Democratic Central Committee.
To win the nomination, a Republican presidential candidate needs to receive at least 35 percent of the convention votes.
The eight Maryland delegates chosen by the GOP central committee are bound on their first two convention votes to the candidate who wins the state primary.
The remaining delegates are bound on the first two ballots to the presidential candidate who receives the most votes in their district primary. The only exception is if a presidential campaign authorized the name of its candidate to appear on the primary ballot next to the delegate’s. In that case, the delegate would be committed to the presidential candidate.
“After the second ballot, delegates are free to vote for whoever they choose,” West said.
Some candidates for delegate are convention veterans and are looking forward to reliving some of the excitement of their previous experiences.
Republican Carole Buchanan, of Darnestown, sister-in-law to presidential candidate Patrick Buchanan, is looking forward to supporting him as she did in 1992.
“It was very exciting. I was with the Buchanan people in 1992. There was a lot of energy, a lot of new ideas,” she said.
Her husband, James, is also on the ballot for delegate. Carole Buchanan said she is looking forward “to Pat getting the nomination.”
The Democratic National Convention would be a first-time experience for candidate Francine Schaffer, principal of Logan Elementary School in Baltimore County.
“I’ve never done this before and I’m an adventurous type. … I’m looking forward to seeing the excitement of people interested in democracy in this country,” said Schaffer, a member of the state Democratic Central Committee.
The historic speeches are a draw for many.
“The best part of it is the people you meet and the speeches that are made,” said state Sen. Decatur Trotter, D-Prince George’s, a veteran of two national conventions.
Former state Sen. Howard Denis, a lawyer who was a George Bush delegate to the 1988 and 1992 conventions, said he hopes to be elected to cast his ballot for Senate Majority Leader Robert Dole, R-Kan.
“That’s the heart and soul of the reason why I want to go,” Denis said.
Among the other high-profile candidates running for convention delegate are Republican Reps. Wayne Gilchrest of Kennedyville and Roscoe Bartlett of Frederick. -30-