WA Democrats to gather this week in Seattle
As Washington Democrats prepare to gather for their three-day state convention starting Friday in Seattle, many party activists say any worry about lighting a fire under their faithful is premature.
“We had our congressional-district caucuses a couple weeks ago. I was really pleased with how jazzed people were,” Thurston County Democratic chairman Stew Henderson said Tuesday. “People are ready for this thing. I’ve been saying for about a year and a half now this is going to be the biggest election in Washington state in people’s memory.’’
Unity behind President Barack Obama will be one party message, but state Democratic chairman Dwight Pelz might have ensured that some intra-party debate also happens.
Pelz invited Newark, N.J., Mayor Cory Booker as Friday night’s keynote speaker, and Booker could bring controversy because of his support for charter schools, which many Washington Democrats oppose.
Booker also made national news recently after criticizing some of Obama’s campaign ads attacking Mitt Romney. Booker later backtracked and said Romney’s record was fair game as long as the Republican was touting his executive experience to claim he created jobs.
“As Dwight always says, this is the Democratic Party and we disagree on things,” Pelz spokesman Benton Strong said. “We have a free exchange of ideas
It’s great to have someone of his (Booker’s) stature coming to speak to us.’’
Not that Republicans are letting the moment go without comment. The Freedom Foundation, a right-of-center think tank based in Olympia that has fought against public-school unions for more than a decade, put out an invitation for Booker to attend its session on charter schools planned this week at the state Republican Party convention in Tacoma.
Rose Ehart, chairwoman of the Pierce County Democrats, said she thinks any different perspectives Booker brings will be good. “People have the right to have a different perspective, and we should allow that. If you hear other points of view, you are learning and growing,” she said.
The state convention is the last stop before delegates move on to the national Democratic event Sept. 3-6 in Charlotte, N.C. It offers candidates for statewide office a chance to meet and speak to delegates who will be active over the summer in promoting the party’s agenda.
Strong said he expects voter interest to build after the convention.
“Let’s not forget it is May 29. This is way early even for the new election calendar,” he said. “I fully expect that in June and July and early August
there’ll be plenty of excitement. There’ll be plenty going on.’’