Tuesday, July 26, 2016
Just waking up here in Philadelphia after a good three hours of sleep. I could certainly use more, but it’s convention week so I’ll make it up on the backend.
Monday was the first official day of the 2016 Democratic National Convention – and what a day it was!
Each morning, the delegation gathers to pick up credentials and hear updates on the day. Wisconsin is doing a joint breakfast with the Montana and Alaska Democratic parties, which has been really fun getting to know Democrats from other parts of the country.
We were joined by Governor Terry McAuliffe, former DNC Chair, at breakfast to provide some welcoming remarks. Governor McAuliffe spoke about his decision to help reinstate the voting rights of ex-felons and the importance of Wisconsin, not only in 2016 but also of the need to defeat Scott Walker and win back the governor’s office in 2018.
The second elected official to join us was Wisconsin’s very own Congresswoman Gwen Moore, who was greeted with a standing ovation. She complimented the Bernie Sanders delegates on a great campaign, and in particular on all the work they did to help get the most progressive platform drafted in our party history. She went on to stress the importance of party unity going forward to ensure that Donald Trump is never president.
Following those remarks, we heard a number of updates on which shuttles to use to get in to the hall, how security was expected to work, what people could bring or not bring into the hall, etc. The real highlight of each breakfast though isn’t hearing the slog of logistical items, while very important. The real highlight is the raffle! I was lucky enough to have been drawn to receive a limited edition Tammy Baldwin 2012 hat. Not the top prize of the day, but still a good one to win!
I had a bit of down time between breakfast and the gaveling in of convention to do a little prep for my meetings that I have today. I then hustled down in the blistering sun and humid air to the Wells Fargo Arena. It was an excruciating walk outside for a bit, where everyone was covered in sweat. But once you passed through security and entered the arena, you were overcome with awe.
I’ve been really blessed with some unique opportunities in politics. This marked my fourth National Convention and no matter how many you attend, walking onto the floor always takes my breath away. I found a seat in the Wisconsin delegation’s area just off the floor and waited for DNC Secretary Stephanie Rawlings-Blake to gavel us in, which only happened about 11 minutes later. After that, we were on time the entire rest of the night.
Our delegation had a great view to see some of the amazing speeches, from First Lady Michelle Obama, to Senators Cory Booker and Elizabeth Warren, and of course the final keynote from Senator Sanders. I won’t go in to detail on each of the speeches today, because well, you can find that in a number of other news sites. What I can tell you though is that the Wisconsin delegation all rallied behind Senator Sanders to thank him for his campaign and for what he did to help grow the party. The evening ended with chants of “He’s with Her!”
By about 11:30 p.m., we were finally able to make our way out of the hall and on to some parties for the evening. Being it the first day of convention, there were a few logistical hiccups along the way and delegates did not know which bus to get on or where to go, but what do you expect when you have more than 5,000 of your closest friends all gathered in one little space?
We hurried out and joined the rest of the Wisconsin delegation at the National Constitution Center for some delicious Philly Cheesesteaks and other local favorites. Senator Baldwin and Mayor Barrett were there and greeted the delegates.
Finally, at about 2 a.m., I made the journey back to the hotel only to do a bit of work before turning in. You are tired at the end of each day, but your adrenaline is running high so it’s hard to fall asleep.
I’d best get going now. I'm already a bit late for breakfast and don’t want to miss out on too many speeches and updates for the day, but of course, I don’t want to miss out on the raffle!
-- By Jason Rae
Editor's note: Rae is a superdelegate who has endorsed Hillary Clinton and is attending the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. He is doing a diary of the trip for WisPolitics.com, which featured similar coverage of the GOP convention.
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