First in a series: With the combination of the tight race between Sen. Hillary Clinton and Sen. Barack Obama and the convenience of the Democratic National Convention in Denver, many Democrats are interested in the delegate selection process. Colorado Confidential is going to follow the trek of one delegate hopeful from Glenwood Springs — Nick Isenberg.
Isenberg started life out the hard way. “I was the second most premature baby to live when I was born in 1942,” Isenberg said. “I was 90 days premature and I’ve been blind in my right eye since birth because of too much oxygen pressure in my incubator.”
Isenberg also suffers from profound deafness and needs a portable amplifier for meetings and earphones to listen to the TV.
“My biggest handicap isn’t my eyes or hearing,” Isenberg noted. “It’s being blunt and saying it like it is and expecting things to be better.”
Isenberg has spent 25 years in Glenwood Springs in the journalism field. Locals call him “Nicky News.” He also has worked with disadvantaged youth and against discrimination. “It’s helped me to understand how lucky I am and how hard other people have to work to get what should be the status quo.”
Two years ago, he quit the media business to get more involved with politics.
“Most of what I do, besides what everyone who is active does — like going to parades, knocking on doors, and showing up — is doing volunteer media coaching for candidates,” Isenberg said. “But, I’m not afraid to be as tough on the Democratic candidates as I am on the Republicans.”
Isenberg has also become involved with the organization promoting the Democrats with Disabilities Initiative. “I’ve been an advocate for all civil rights – including people with disabilities.”
In the Colorado Democratic Party delegate selection plan, the party wants to accommodate at least four disabled delegates to the national convention. Isenberg hopes to fill one of those slots to have an opportunity to be vocal about the needs of the disabled at the convention level.
“You have to understand people with disabilities are also the same people who have the same issues we all have,” Isenberg explained. “We as a community do need some special support systems and we need to fight for those systems. They are a matter of life and death for many people.”
During the many steps to become a delegate at the national level, Isenberg hopes to be involved in shaping the local, state and national platforms. “I want to be able to influence the Democratic platform and have it really be a reflection of who we are and should be,” Isenberg stressed.
In preparation for caucus night, Isenberg has attended several delegate info programs on the Front Range and local caucus training sessions. He feels he’s ready to face the competition at his precinct caucus for a delegate seat at the county convention, the next step on the road to the national convention. In years previous, all he had to do was raise his hand to be selected. This year, it could be different — there are only five county convention delegate slots from his precinct and others may vie for a spot.
“Originally, I really liked Rep. Dennis Kucinich much better than the other candidates, but he dropped out, so I went to Plan B, Gov. Bill Richardson. Now, I have a Plan C which could include being undecided,” Isenberg said.
Nick Isenberg has overcome disabilities all his life. One of his biggest challenges yet may be trying to become a delegate to the Democratic National Convention.
Look for the continuing saga of “Nick, the hopeful delegate” after Tuesday’s precinct caucuses.
Photo: Nick Isenberg has to use special equipment to hear people speak. Photo by Leslie Robinson.