Jerry Davich: Another conventional convention?
Jerry Davich firstname.lastname@example.org August 25, 2012 8:22PM
Jerry Davich. | Jeffrey D. Nicholls~Sun-Times Media
The Indiana Republican Party has launched a new website, HoosiersInTampa.com, a one-stop shop for direct updates from Indiana’s 46 delegates and 43 alternates attending the Republican National Convention in Tampa. The website includes delegate diaries, videos, and pictures with a specific emphasis on the behind-the-scenes happenings you won’t see during primetime coverage of the convention.
Updated: September 27, 2012 11:19AM
‘History will be made in Tampa this week when 2,286 delegates and 2,125 alternate delegates gather to nominate the next president of the United States at the 40th Republican National Convention.”
Or so claims the press release I received from the Republican Party on the eve of the convention, which was scheduled to begin Monday and run through Thursday.
“We want to remind Americans that we don’t have to settle for four more years of high unemployment, low pay, and deep debt,” Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said in a statement.
Do you agree with his statement? Will you be watching the convention? Will you be attending it? Do you even care?
This past week I’ve been asking such questions to Republican voters from Northwest Indiana, a growing minority in this region that is hoping to ride the national wave of conservative political policies.
Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney and his new running mate, Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan — love ’em, like ’em, or settle for ’em — are leading the charge, and Portage Mayor Jim Snyder, for one, is flying to Tampa to show his support.
“As mayor of Portage, I am for more jobs, less government debt, and a serious discussion on the government programs that we do not believe will be solvent unless we do something as a country to fix them,” he told me before leaving for Florida for his first such national convention.
Snyder, who will be traveling with fellow Republicans state Rep. Ed Soliday and Valparaiso Mayor Jon Costas, is also seeking national notoriety for his city.
“It is important to network with others and make sure that Portage is represented well across the country,” he said. “We are looking for new jobs and investment in Portage.”
As with most elected officials who are attending the convention, Snyder will pay for the trip with his own money, not taxpayer dollars, he said.
Dan Dumezich, a Schererville resident, Chicago lawyer, former state representative and Republican heavy-hitter in this region, is on the convention’s credential committee. He will be in Tampa all week, enjoying his fourth convention as a delegate.
“It’s a great chance to see people from across the country, and also to see old friends from previous national conventions,” Dumezich said.
He also enjoys listening to all the high-profile speakers, which will include Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum, Arizona Sen. John McCain, Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, Condoleezza Rice, actress-turned activist Janine Turner, and of course Romney and Ryan.
Of Indiana’s 46 delegates and 43 alternates who planning to attend the convention, several are from our region, District 1, including State Sen. Ed Charbonneau, Mike Simpson of Valparaiso, Dennis Flynn of Dyer and Pete Seat of Schererville.
Still on the fence?
Many other rank-and-file NWI Republicans I spoke with admitted the cost to travel and stay in Tampa is simply too rich for their blood. They will instead watch it on TV or via the Internet this coming week.
Organizers are billing the event as a “convention without walls,” thanks to high-tech social media efforts and its official website, GOPConvention2012.com. There, visitors can learn about the party’s history, get immediate updates and share opinions on the convention’s blog, “Conventional Wisdom,” at www.gopconvention2012.com/blog/.
Nearly 50,000 visitors are expected in the Tampa Bay area, including delegates, alternate delegates, guests and roughly 15,000 credentialed media personnel from around the world.
“An international press corps second only in size to this summer’s London Olympic Games,” another press release states.
Many NWI Republicans are simply hoping the convention’s traditional hype, hoopla and enthusiasm ripples its way to this region.
“I am looking for leaders in our community who want to end the mediocrity and inactivity that has been so prevalent in years past,” said Dawn Pelc, Republican chairman for St. John and St. John Township.
Pelc hopes the convention will prompt voters to become precinct committeemen or help raise voting awareness for the Nov. 6 election.
“Also, I want to encourage women of all ages to apply for these positions. Your town needs you,” she added.
I’m wondering if the convention pushes any swing voters off the fence to vote for Romney and Ryan over President Obama. Or to vote at all.
In a previous column, I asked if any NWI voters are, indeed, undecided for whom to vote at this late point in the race. It seems hard to believe to me. Either Romney, period. Or Obama, period. Right? Wrong.
Dennis D. of Crown Point, a self-described “middle class, recently retired man who goes with the flow just like a lot of others,” contacted me to say he still isn’t sure who to vote for.
“Frankly, I don’t like either candidate. Neither has given me a reason to decide,” he said, offering me several valid reasons to prove his point. “It’s up to them to convince me or, at least, give me a reason to vote for them.”
Dennis, who voted for McCain and his running mate Sarah Palin in 2008, confessed that if the next presidential election was held tomorrow, he would vote for — gasp — Obama.
“He’s not perfect, he’s made mistakes, but haven’t we all. At least you know what you’re going to get.”
Good thing he’s not attending the convention, huh?
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