HUTCHINSON, Kan. - Democrats from the First Congressional District gathered here on Saturday, May 5, electing delegates to the Democratic National Convention, to be held the week of September 3 in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Traveling from as far apart as Garden City, Hays, Emporia and various points in between, representatives from all the state senate districts in the "Big First" participated as delegates and observers, said District Chair Larry Daniels of Dodge City. "In total 74 people attended which I believe is an excellent turnout considering the distances people had to travel because of the size of the district," Daniels said.
The competition was very strong for the election, Daniels said, as 49 Democrats from the district had filed candidacy forms with the state party so their names would appear on the ballot. Five delegates were elected to represent Kansas from the First District.
"I feel as Bubba Watson did when he won the Masters," said Hays resident Harriet Caplan of her election as a national delegate. "My dreams never got that far."
In her candidacy speech to the convention, Lyon County Democratic Party Chair Susan Fowler spoke passionately about a family member who is directly impacted by the health insurance reforms passed during President Obama's term. "I am representing all of the Democrats of the Big First, and especially anyone who depends upon Obamacare for their existence."
Inman Attorney Ellen Neufeld was a delegate to the national convention in 2004, where she had the opportunity to see Barack Obama deliver the keynote address that brought him national attention. "What a speech and what an experience to be there! I knew then that he would go far," Neufeld said. As one of the delegates elected for this year's convention, Neufeld noted that she will be visiting Charlotte, North Carolina for the first time. "I know that I will be pinching myself in the convention hall, saying to myself how lucky I am to be there."
Larry Blake of Dodge City was elected as one of two male delegates, along with Darrell Hamlin of Ellis. "I worked hard for President Obama in 2008, and I will continue in 2012 to show the people of Kansas that he and the Democratic Party truly represent the interests of all Kansas and citizens of our great country, and not just a privileged few," Blake said.
Democrats from the other three congressional districts also elected delegates to the national meeting. In all, 33 Kansans were chosen as district-level delegates, the state party said in a news release. An additional 11 at-large delegates and five party leader and elected official (PLEO) delegates will be selected at the June 9 Democratic State Convention.