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Fargo residents part of Democratic convention

Audrey Henderson-Nocho has two goals for her third turn as a national political convention delegate. The Fargo resident's first priority is getting Sen.

Audrey Henderson-Nocho has two goals for her third turn as a national political convention delegate.

The Fargo resident's first priority is getting Sen. John Kerry designated as the Democratic presidential nominee.

The second is getting former President Clinton to sign her copy of his book.

That mix of politics and play is what draws most delegates to the Democratic National Convention, said Paul Meyers, a Fargo School Board member who is serving as a delegate for the first time.

"There's really a lot more to attending the convention than just picking the eventual nominee," said Meyers, one of eight Fargo residents attending the gathering as part of North Dakota's 26-member delegation.


This year's Democratic convention starts Monday in Boston. The most visible piece of business for the 4,353 delegates over the four-day event will be selecting the presidential and vice presidential candidates.

About 35,000 people - delegates, guests, dignitaries and journalists - are expected to attend, according to the convention's Web site.

The Republican convention, where delegates will endorse President Bush for re-election, starts Aug. 30 in New York City.

The Democratic choice is also a foregone conclusion: Kerry already has enough committed delegates to win.

But that doesn't stop some delegates, such as Henderson-Nocho, from traveling to Boston to show their support for Kerry.

"We've got a viable candidate here who can push Bush out of office and put him back in Crawford (Texas)," she said.

Meyers said having a pre-determined presidential candidate doesn't mean the convention won't be exciting.

"It isn't about a surprise. It's about getting the best person to do the job," he said.


Some delegates, like Cheryl Bergian, aren't automatically supporting Kerry.

The Fargo woman plans to vote for Rep. Dennis Kucinich, a self-described "progressive" candidate, even though she knows he has no chance of winning the nomination.

"I think it registers the perspective of those who feel Kucinich represents their values and their goals and what they believe," she said.

Picking a presidential candidate isn't the only reason to attend the convention, Meyers said. Delegates also will discuss and vote on their party's platform - a statement of the Democratic position on a range of issues.

And then there is the part where delegates get to meet some of their party's leaders and stars, Meyers said.

"Part of the reality of politics and government is if you get to know someone in a position of authority, it can be helpful to your state and your region," he said.

Delegates also get an opportunity to go sight-seeing, and to enjoy scheduled entertainment such as a performance by the Boston Pops orchestra, Meyers said.

Those reasons make it worthwhile for delegates to campaign for the job at the state state convention, even knowing that if they're selected they have to pay their own way to Boston, Meyers said.


For Republican delegates, the reasons and process are similar.

"I think it gives you a broader view of what's happening in the whole rest of the country," said state Rep. Kathy Hawken of Fargo, who will be a delegate at the Republican convention. "It helps me be a better legislator - hopefully, my vision can be a little broader."

To read a Web log of Paul Meyers' experiences at the Democratic National Convention, visit the In-Forum Web site at www.in-forum.com . Click on the "Voter's Guide" section; Meyers' posts will be in the Flickertail blog area.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Joy Anderson at (701) 241-5556

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