The Democratic National Committee will hold its national convention in Charlotte from September 3-6, and District Democrats will support the party’s candidates, platform and press its own agenda.
Anita Bonds is the chairman of the D.C. Democratic State Committee, which is the official arm of the national Democratic Party in the city. Bonds said that amidst the celebratory atmosphere that will take place the party has several objectives.
"We are going to participate in the process of nominating our candidates for president and vice president," she said. "Of course, that will be President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden. But we will be working on promoting the local party."
The District of Columbia has been the most reliable Democratic jurisdiction in the U.S. Electoral College since it was allowed to participate in presidential elections, starting in 1964. The District throws its support behind the Democratic candidate for president even during landslide Republican years that re-elected Richard Nixon in 1972, elected Ronald Reagan in 1980 and re-elected Reagan in 1984.
Obama won the District in the 2008 general election with 92 percent of the vote, by far the largest percentage in an electoral jurisdiction that year. The District is so heavily favored to go to the president again the Obama for America campaign, based in Chicago, hasn’t set up a campaign office in the city and the president isn’t scheduled to make a campaign appearance.
Bonds said that there will be 58 party members, including the 44 delegates that won their positions through party elections and selections by the D.C. Democratic State Committee. Among the notable delegates are D.C. Council member Marion Barry (D-Ward 8) and D.C. Council member Jack Evans (D-Ward 2).
D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray will serve as the head of the city's delegation and will preside over delegation meetings in Charlotte. The leader of a state-level delegation at the Democratic National Convention is the governor and in the District's case, the mayor.
Bonds said that she and the delegation will work to inform Democrats from other states about the city's lack of full political rights.
"As we have for the past eight conventions, we will continue to talk about the need for D.C. statehood and chip away at any resistance we encounter," she said.
The Democratic Party's national platform has supported D.C. statehood for decades. Bonds said that it’s a matter of convincing individual delegations to move forward on resolutions that support it in their states.
She said that she would like to specifically talk to New Hampshire Democrats.
"Earlier this year, the mayor, the chairman of the D.C. Council and other city officials went to the New Hampshire legislature to get support for statehood but we failed to get it," Bonds said. "When I am in Charlotte, I would like to talk to the Democrats in New Hampshire to find out what went wrong."
She said that might not be easy, logistically speaking.
"Democratic delegations are scattered in hotels throughout the city," she said. "Our hotel is the Hilton Garden Inn, which is located in Concord, N.C., outside of the city. We are not close to the Charlotte Convention Center, where the activities will take place."
She said that the delegation will meet at 8 a.m. in the morning and board buses at 9 a.m. that will take them to the convention center.
Among the speakers scheduled to address delegates at the convention are former President Bill Clinton, Caroline Kennedy, daughter of the late President John F. Kennedy, Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, U.S. Representative Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) and Mayors Cory Booker and Michael Nutter of Newark and Philadelphia, respectively. Bonds pointed out that no District Democrat has been asked to speak, but she knows who should fill that role.
"We feel that Eleanor Holmes Norton should be on the list of speakers," she said. "We put in a request for Norton to speak and we are hopeful that she gets the chance."