Third in a series: The Democratic presidential primary might not be settled until the National Convention in Denver so interest is high in becoming a delegate –but there are only 55 open slots for Colorado Democrats. Colorado Confidential is following the trek of one delegate hopeful from Glenwood Springs, Nick Isenberg, as he negotiates the delegate selection process. Read Part I and Part II about how Isenberg’s quest is sometimes stymied by his disabilities. When over 30 people raised their hands to indicate they wanted to become delegates to the National Democratic Convention at the Garfield County Democratic Party’s convention, Isenberg said he wasn’t surprised. Luckily, he garnered enough support to become a delegate to both the 3rd Congressional District and state conventions.
“I though it might be worse, but it wasn’t reassuring,” he said. If competition in his own county was going to be tough, what will it be like at the CD 3 convention on May 16 in Colorado Springs? There, Isenberg will be competing against other hopefuls out of a 772-member delegation. “All of them won’t be competing, maybe just about 750,” Isenberg joked.
Isenberg has severe hearing problems and is blind in one eye. He hopes to fill one of the four slots the Colorado Democratic Party would like to fill with handicapped delegates although he’ll be competing against all interested CDP delegates for a national convention seat. Isenberg is also a member of the political organization Democrats with Disabilities.
If he fails to get one of the five delegate slots in CD 3, he could try his luck at the 12 open seats at the statewide level but he could end up competing against a thousand people out of the 5,017 delegate total for the state convention.
“I’m sure a lot more people want to go this year than in the past, partly because the convention will be in Denver and partly because of all the excitement over the two finalists,” Isenberg noted. “However, I’ve been working on being a delegate long before Denver was chosen as the convention site.”
At the county convention, Isenberg had difficulty understanding speakers and special directions because of his hearing problems. “I missed part of a Sen. Barack Obama rally because I didn’t understand the announcement and didn’t realize that it was something pertaining to me,” he said.
Although the new auditorium where the convention was held had eight wireless earphone sets, no one there knew how to make them work. Plus the earpieces were incompatible with hearing aids. “I sat in the front row which helped a little bit and I used my portable amplifier which helped quite a bit –but still not enough.” Isenberg said he was unable to understand comments made from the audience.
Isenberg believes his disabilities are no reflection on his ability to be a good representative for Colorado at the Democratic National Convention. “I will bring to the convention the same background and experiences as any delegate who has been extremely active in the Democratic Party by attending endless meetings, being on endless committees and walking in parades, knocking on doors and working in the county headquarters.”
Bill Compton, political director of the CDP, says the state party agrees with Isenberg’s assessment about the importance of the disabled on their national delegate slate. “It is essential to have delegates from underrespresented groups like the disabled, African-American and the gays and lesbians, among others, to reflect the party’s diversity.”
The conventions for CD 3 and the state are still two months away but Isenberg is already laying out a plan to appeal to those delegations. The cost of printing and mailing out brochures to the thousands of other delegates asking for their support seems out of his financial range, so he hopes to devise another way to contact them.
“If it took a couple of hours for us at a county level to fill delegate slots, what is it going to be like when hundreds or perhaps thousands of people want to run for the 55 delegate seats to the national convention?” Isenberg wondered. “In previous conventions, hopeful delegates got a chance to give a short speech but I don’t think that can happen because of time issues,” Isenberg noted. “I’m really curious how the state party will handle the delegate selection process at the conventions this year.”
Top photo: a large noisy county convention made it difficult for Isenberg to hear unless people spoke into the microphone. Second photo: Isenberg had to constantly regulate his hearing device and (third photo) move his receiver depending on who was speaking.