BOSTON – They lacked the signs and costumes of other delegations, but what they lacked in material they made up in spirit, as Maryland delegates to the Democratic National Convention Wednesday spoke with one voice for Sen. John Kerry as the party’s presidential candidate.
All of Maryland’s 99 votes went to Kerry, helping to propel the Massachusetts Democrat to the 2,162 votes needed to secure the Democratic nomination.
Sen. John Edwards, the North Carolina senator and vice presidential nominee, was the evening’s highlight.
At the end of his address, and with Stevie Wonder’s “Sir Duke” (“You can feel it all over . . .”) booming over loudspeakers, some delegates awkwardly boogied in the cramped quarters, while others enthusiastically slapped each other on the back.
Their signs and chants stole one of Edwards’ signature lines: “Hope is on the way,” and they were ready to follow Edwards wherever he may lead.
Sen. Paul Sarbanes was tapped to deliver Maryland’s relatively brief nominating statement.
“The great state of Maryland, home to the dean of women senators, my colleague, Senator Barbara Mikulski, the birthplace of the next Speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy D’Alesandro Pelosi, home of the next majority leader of the House, Representative Steny Hoyer, home of the next head of the Congressional Black Caucus, Representative Elijah Cummings, home of Congressmen Ben Cardin, Albert Wynn, and Chris Van Hollen. Maryland proudly casts all of its 99 votes for the next president of the United States, John Kerry,” he said.
Maryland was the 24th delegation to cast its vote, and because many state delegations dashed after being counted it spoke to a somewhat diminished, but no less appreciative audience. Sarbanes’ pronouncement of “John Kerry” drew a healthy round of applause.
Sarbanes’ presentation lasted less than one minute. By contrast, North Carolina employed no less than three speakers. Texas’ 232 delegates held aloft red cards, which they then turned to blue when their votes were cast. The effect was somewhat diminished by the fact that some delegates failed to turn their cards over.
Coloradoans sported bandanas and cowboy hats, while other delegates looked dapper in oversize sequined “Uncle Sam” hats. One delegate wore a foam rubber American flag on her head.
Maryland’s flashiest dresser was Delegate Carolyn J.B. Howard of Prince George’s County, who sported a red, white and blue sequined baseball cap.
Nevertheless, the Marylanders were acutely aware of the TV cameras, springing to life whenever they focused on a neighboring delegation.
The Marylanders also suffered a terminal shortage of rally signs. Those delegations seated within range of the major networks’ cameras were swimming in signs that read “Edwards” and “Hope is on the way” while Maryland, tucked away in the corner, made do with whatever came their way.
Delegate and Takoma Park City Council member Heather Mizeur spent the entirety of Edwards’ speech on the edge of her chair, and was nearly always the first on her feet to applaud a point. She often inspired other members of the delegation to an ovation with her.
At one point, however, she stopped the up-and-down routine and appeared to be moved to tears by Edwards’ message. – 30 – CNS-7-29-04